In team roping or any walk of life, there are two different approaches. Some people are good at handling business and understanding what’s going on around them, and others are just there for the enjoyment of it. When we start out roping as kids, it’s a hobby. It’s fun. As we progress and start to get better as we get older through college and into the pros, rodeo in general becomes your business, whether you handle it like an actual business or not. But when you make the decision to compete for a living, your best bet for being successful is to pay attention to the details and handle everything you do professionally.
I think it’s important to talk about what to do when you win. Everyone is going to win, and everyone is going to lose. Just like we handle our emotions through the highs and lows, we also need to learn how to handle our finances through good times and bad.
As someone who team ropes for a living, we aren’t dealing with guaranteed contracts, and we don’t know where our income is coming from year to year, sometimes even week to week. At every level of roping, we can win big, and it’s very important to set yourself up for the future when you do. As an Open roper, there are a few big ropings throughout the year like the BFI, the Capitalist and the Lone Star Shootout, as well as a few rodeos like The American and RodeoHouston with huge payouts. Other than those, most of our income comes from the NFR. You can have a very good year other places, but those are the places where you’re going to find yourself with a large sum of money in a hurry.
The one thing I’ve always told people who’ve asked me is that it’s very important when we win big that we invest our winnings in ways that help us the rest of our lives. While in the moment, it seems like you’re never going to lose again, you will, whether that be the very next month, the next year or 10 years down the line. While fancy new trucks, trailers and expensive horses are nice, a house or some property is a better long-term investment. Making good investments can be as small as buying a saddle or a new arena drag you’ve been needing, a stock trailer to get around in or putting a small amount of money toward a college fund for your children to help their futures.
Making the Best of It
As a younger team roper coming up, managing yourself and taking care of your business, and knowing what you can do to grow yourself as a person or roper doesn’t cost anything. A lot of building your life around roping is about getting the best out of what you have. You hear people say that they don’t have the money to buy a nice horse, truck, trailer, whatever. That’s true for a lot of cases—going without can be really, really tough. It’s within your control how you take care of that one horse you have, how you keep him shod and fed, how you feed our practice steers, how you drag our arena. If I’m not doing what I can control, I’m not giving myself the best opportunity to succeed. You can put five minutes into each morning to find out what you want out of each day. You can think about each type of loop you want to work on, your delivery, your horses. It doesn’t cost anything to put effort and thinking into what you want to get. As you start getting better, you have more steers and better horses, but that work ethic carries forward no matter what you have, and building that foundation mentally will serve you the rest of your life.