Brandon (Beers) started swinging the rope when he was 2 years old. He roped a goat, a puppy, everything that moved. I had every kind of roping dummy there was for those kids to rope. We started him on a little pony, moved him up to a Welsh pony and then to a grown-up horse. He won his first saddle heading for Brady Minor when he was 6 years old. Back then, he wore 36-30 Wranglers, now he wears 30-36.
For the Love of the Game
My youngest boy, Joe, didn’t want anything to do with roping until he was 13 or 14 years old. I used to have schools at my house and the boys had to help. They could either turn steers for the heelers or work the chutes for $50 a day. Joe, he worked the chutes every time. He was more into hunting and fishing. Brandon, when it was 15 degrees out, would put those heat packs in his gloves and go rope in the barn until the wee hours of the morning.
A parent needs to make the opportunity for the child, but if that child is not capitalizing on that opportunity, they need to take that opportunity away. If Brandon’s grades went down in school, he wasn’t allowed out in the barn roping. In two days, his grades would be right back up. Ray Hunt said it with horses, “Make the right things easy and the wrong things difficult.”
Respect Your Elders
I was in a position where Brandon could be around some guys who roped really good. Guys like Brent Lewis, Doyle Gellerman, Matt Tyler, Charles Pogue, Tee Woolman and Shain Sproul—some of the greatest headers—would come to my house and Brandon could rope with them every day. He went to college in Texas and worked for Tee Woolman. Tee is one of Brandon’s greatest mentors and his job was not to rope there, his job was to clean stalls.
When we won Houston, Brandon had just turned 21, but he didn’t celebrate that weekend. The next weekend after Austin, he did celebrate, and didn’t get back to Tee’s house until 2 a.m. At 7 a.m., he was out cleaning stalls. I’d never seen that side of him. But Tee’s rules were simple, if he was going to stay at his house, he was going to be out at 7 a.m. to feed the horses and clean the stalls. He had the respect for his mentors.
Kids need to learn if you have the chance to learn from a great roper, they need to respect that person. What they say is gospel. You need to put your kids in situations where they are around great ropers. Jade Corkill has spent time at our house and I can remember years ago, Jane Johnson brought Jhett and his brother to one of my schools when they were like 13 or 14 years old.
Have Fun Learning Something
There were times when Brent Lewis was at my house when Brandon was 7- or 8-years old that I had to go to town because it was driving me nuts the way they were practicing. As a parent, I want Brandon to toe the line all the time. But if I think back to how I did it, there were plenty of times I went to the arena and it was a big screw-off. But we had fun. You have to learn the difference between screwing off and practicing right. It can’t be a job, you have to make it fun and make it to where they learn something.
Outside the Arena
A well-rounded kid needs to learn to do other things than just rope. Fishing and hunting are great and you need to help even if it’s not something you’re into personally. If they rope all the time, they’ll burn themselves out. Both my kids played sports in high school.
You need to have other options, too. Education is huge. So many guys can get their education paid for with a rope. Staying in school and getting good grades are important. Early in life it doesn’t look like it, but later in life it’s so important—and it never leaves you.