I was at the US Finals five years ago roping with (WNFR header and BFI champ) Drew Horner, and we were 19 on three head. We were just a second or a second-and-a-half off the leaders. Chad Masters and Travis Graves were about the same on three, and they went right before us. They were some-kind-of short five, and I watched that and thought, ‘That’s what I need to do.’ I threw way too fast trying to match Travis, and I missed him. As it turns out, if we’d have gotten the next two steers down in 15 seconds, we’d have won third and probably $12,000 a man.
That taught me right then that I’m best off if I don’t try to beat anybody and just do my job. I’m not trying to out-rope anybody now. I just want to catch the steer my header turns for me.
Guys like Champ (Clay O’Brien Cooper) are so good at that. The other day over at Nampa, the steer wasn’t very good on the end of the rope no matter what Derrick (Begay) did. But for Champ, it was no big deal. A lot of people, myself included, would have just thrown and missed. Champ just made sure he got him caught. Then they bounced back and got a good check in the next round on a better steer.
Sometimes not beating myself means going back to the basics, too. I’ve got good fundamentals, so I have a base I can go back to where I know how to catch. It might not be my fastest run and it might not be my best run, but I know I can catch when I’m focusing on those fundamentals. I can rebuild from there. I make sure that I feel everything, and I make sure my horse is working good. It’s better than searching for something to work—at least I have one thing I can go right back to that can get me back on track—my fundamentals.