November has been an amazing month. It is almost history and it seems just yesterday I was breaking in the steers we are almost to send home! Long before I had a PRCA card I read about how other cowboys practiced for the NFR. I read how ropers would set up a left wall the dimensions of the Thomas and Mack. I read about how guys prepared their good horses and took advantage of practice horses to ready themselves. 

I’m very pleased to say that after years of planning and thinking of different scenarios, this has been the best month of practice I’ve ever had. I leased some fresh steers that had never been team roped and we where careful breaking them in. I also bought Apache War Paint (a solid head horse) for whomever is helping me to ride while I’m practicing. We made a special knot rope (a rope that has a knot to keep from choking a steer) and my header has been putting it on in the chute every time. This is something I have wanted to to for a long time. It makes sense to me that having the head rope on the steer before he leaves creates a “more than realistic” practice. My header can turn them exactly where I want them turned allowing me to work on myself and my horses without much inconsistency. I set up a left wall similar to the Thomas and Mack. 

Also this month I decided to focus on my 3 best horses. I have used my mare Pretty-B predominately as a practice horse. I have only roped what I felt was the correct amount on Daisy and Rue to keep them working their absolute best. By spending most of my time riding these 3 horses I feel my roping is sharper than ever. I love training horses but I feel like focusing on Quality over Quantity this month has been much like using a magnifying glass on my roping. These 3 horses are really good and if I mess up it’s usually my fault. No Excuses! I had a set back last week. Daisy randomly freaked out and ran backwards into a concrete ledge cutting her hock badly. She had to be stitched up and has spent several days at the Vet. I really appreciate all the prayers and I’m hoping I can practice on her a couple times before I leave. If she is not healed enough to make the trip and/or be rode out there Rue has been working the best he ever has. I have 100% confidence in either of them and thank God I have 2 horses that work so well. I’ll be leaving on Sunday Dec.1st. Oxbow Tack and Cinch Jeans have joined me in counting down to the NFR and will be doing round-by-round updates on my Facebook Fan Page. They have provided lots of stuff to give away thru drawings. Like it, share it, and keep up with me on #RoadtoNFR13.

I would like to say a huge thank you to just a couple of many people who have (and are still) playing a crucial role in my preparation for the 2013 NFR. My wife Krista always works 2 jobs. She is a full time Cosmetologist and always does more than her share helping me.In the 7 years we have been married I couldn’t count the times she has dressed in every possible winter garment and came outside to pull the machine in sub-freezing rain, sleet, and snow for hours at a time. Regularly I’ll tie her on in a horse blanket so that only her head and arms are sticking out to operate the 4 wheeler. She has helped me get here and she will help me stay! I also want to thank Tyler Branstetter. He also wears 2 hats. He is attending NEO college in Miami, Ok. on a rodeo scholarship and works for me. He has made it possible for me to take my practice to an “all about me” level I’ve never had before. This month he hasn’t hardly thrown a single head loop at my house.He has put up with my “over the top” attitude toward practice, showed up in good weather and bad, and never complained about a single thing. Not many guys would put their roping on the back burner to help somebody else prepare.

God Bless, RopeBetter.

Buddy Hawkins