“There’s Only One First NFR”

9/25 Kansas City, Mo; 1st go? 4.8, placed 2nd

9/26 Omaha, Ne; Top 12 in each event. Everybody gets 2 steers. The top 8 in the average advance to a Semi-finals where the field is narrowed to only 4 for the finals. 1st go?4.7, placed 3rd

9/27 Omaha, Ne; 2nd go?5.3, placed 6th in go-round and 4th in the average

9/28 Omaha, Ne; Semi-finals?NT

It’s official! I’ve qualified for the National Finals Rodeo! The 2013 regular season and my first year of full-time rodeoing has came to a close. There are so many things going through my mind as I survey the season. “What-ifs” commonly cloud my thoughts; like? what if I hadn’t placed in Kansas City the last week of 2012? I qualified for San Antonio this year in 45th place from money won in 2012; they only accept 45. What if the only guy in the world that both believed in me and headed good enough to make it to the NFR hadn’t wanted to rope? What if my horses hadn’t worked the best they ever have in their lives all year long? The best answer for a what-if is? a “But-God”. But God, made it possible for Chase Tryan to encourage me to enter Kansas City with Quisto Lopez. But God, made it seem that Drew and I were “loose-ends” for the 4th time. (Drew Horner and I roped in 2009, 2010, and 2012) But God, blessed me with willing horses and peers to share the insight I needed. Other what-ifs are also equally intriguing to me, from a different perspective. Exactly a year ago I had put nearly all of my money, and all of my energy, into the USTRC finals. I was the most prepared I had ever been. I’m going to walk you through a few days of that week. We started on Wednesday, at Elk City, in a 5-head open roping. In the 4th go, I had a great opportunity to come back high call and win the roping, but my partner missed. Thursday, I roped at another 5-header “Hearts Open Roping” in Guthrie. I had a chance but this time, in the 4th go, my partners horse fell down. Next stop? OKC. On Saturday I came back high call in the 15 pre-lim, and I needed a clean run to win a lot of money. However, I slipped a leg and we didn’t place. The 15 Shoot-Out, another 5-header, was next. After 3 steers we were in great position for a callback, but I broke the barrier by .01 seconds (I was heading). We didn’t make the cut. Then it was on to the Open Shoot-Out?a 6-steer roping. It is the biggest, and most prestigious, roping of the week with a $2,000/man entry fee. We placed in the first round and stayed in the top 5 throughout the roping. In the 5th round we needed a clean run to have a great callback. Our steer was really good? loped even, and Drew turned him fast. I took a good, high-percentage, shot but he got out of it as fast as he got in it. My week was over. Everything I had worked so hard for was summed up in a $1500 check. Now, I was headed back to the practice pen to prepare for the Allen, Tx. rodeo. Allen was the next weekend, so I went down early to practice. We went to the slack and watched?then back and practiced more. The night we were up we had a good steer. Drew got a great start, roped him fast, and I got far enough down the arena that I could get a fast throw. The clock stopped at 4.0? which was splitting 1st. The rodeo and the crowd went crazy. As I rode out of the arena I found out that Drew had an illegal head catch; we got a NT. I felt a sense of “Failure”. The question came into my mind, “Why am I doing this?”. I’m not a real excitable person. I don’t freak out about great accomplishments or when terrible things happen. That stretch of roping was a real challenge for me. It took everything I had to put myself back together to start this year. I felt like I had lost the battle. As you all well know, I believe that you “Reap what you Sow”. The best things are the hardest to achieve. I like the line in Trip Lee’s song, “I’m Good”, that says? “pressure creates diamonds and fire refines the gold”. It is such a blessing to see first-hand the way that my efforts are paying off. A qualification to the NFR is the single biggest highlight of my career. I am excited about the opportunities this means for my family! I am so grateful to my God, wife, family, friends, and sponsers-Rattler, Purina, Oxbow Tack, A&D Equine Dentistry, Cinch, and Marcotte Veterinary Services for making it possible!

Buddy Hawkins

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