There’s No Substitute for Setting Goals and Sacrifice
To be the best, you have to set goals and be willing to sacrifice for better.
Jake Barnes and Clay O'Brien Cooper

I’ve had a dream of being a roper, roping for a living and trying to be the best I can be since I was 13 or 14 years old. So I kind of take for granted the goal setting and sacrifice it takes to be successful roping. That desire within me from such an early age has always pushed me in that direction. So setting goals and sacrificing different things in life to achieve those goals is something I do every day. Like the old saying goes, I’ve eaten, drank and slept team roping ever since I can remember.

The one thing that has always been a concern and in the forefront of my mind has been my horses. There have been times in my career that I had to scrape up all the money I had in order to buy a horse. It was a sacrifice, but that’s what it took to try to have the best horse that fit me. And that’s what it takes to win.

READ: Getting Where You Need to Be

The traveling part when you’re rodeoing-especially in the summertime-is a big sacrifice. A lot of times you go without rest and have lots of miles to cover and you’re tired. When I was young I never really thought about it. But as I get older I realize it affects me more.

I see the young guys who keep coming in. As I reflect back when I was at that stage in my career, I realize I didn’t think about anything. The desire to travel, compete and win was such a motivating force. About 10 years into my professional career is when I reached my first burnout point. I had to start setting my goals and prioritizing my time, because of family. Having kids changes your perspective on your rodeo career. Roping moves into the stage of being a job and not just an adventure you’re looking forward to every day. At about 10 years it starts to become a job and not just a wonderland adventure every day. It’s the first time you recognize that there’s a grind factor to it. The whole perspective changes.

We make a plan and set goals from year to year. When I start to get toward the end of the season, I make a plan for the next year and then make a commitment to carry out that plan. It’s a long, hard year of lots of miles, practice, planning and striving to achieve the goals that I’ve set for that year. There are peaks and valleys. You don’t do good all the time. You go in spurts. You win, then maybe go a week or two and don’t win. So you have to be committed with a goal in mind that you’re going to complete the task and see it through.

READ: Living Your Best Rodeo Life

The sacrifice includes having enough horses and practicing to prepare yourself. Roping just keeps getting tougher and tougher, so preparation becomes even more important. The guys on the best horses who have the best preparation behind them have the edge when we all get to the rodeo.

It all comes down to desire. I’ve been rodeoing for almost 30 years, and I’ve seen lots of guys come and lots of guys go-basically three decades of guys coming in. The ones that are stayers are the ones who are driven and have the desire that nothing’s going to deny them from doing what they want to do, which is make a living roping.

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