Hello again everybody and welcome to The Drivers Seat. Here we are 8 days from the kick off of the NFR. Every contestant has been in prep every day roping in arenas that have been set up and sized down to mimick the size of the arena of the Thomas N Mack. Just like any athlete who trains for an event it takes repetition to condition the animal athletes for the 10 performances in Las Vegas. In a set up like that where head horses are running up the wall and into the corner staying strong to the horn and having the confidence to face will make the difference. We all know the dangers of a horse that weakens into the corner without controlling the steers head you don't have his feet and that could cause your partner to slip a leg, and legs in Vegas will cost you!
This will be my first trip to the NFR so I really have no clue what all of my responsibilities will be. Although one thing is for sure taking care of the horses is top priority on the list and making sure that they are where they need to be for practices and rehearsals. I have been told from many sources that my horses will be staying at a place near the Thomas n Mack and I will be hauling them into the arena. On Tue Dec 3rd the TR contestants will rope the steers at the arena and I will video and make what is called the "list". For those of you who do not know, the "list" is probably one of the most critical pieces of information on the stock in the PRCA.
When cattle are used for roping or horses are used to buck they have tendencies as to what they will do during the run. If a steer crashes the gates when the chute opens or hangs and steps one direction or the other, knowing that can be the difference between a check and a failure. All of that being said it is important to study your stock and know as much about them as you possibly can before the run and usually there is someone around who knows them that you can ask. My very good friend Kevin Daniel is the authority on video and booking steers his wife records every run by every roper and they are always who guys call when the want to know the info on their steer.
Another job that is to be done at the beginning of the week is in the TD roping the calves are to be tied before they can be used in a performance. So Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday we will go to the arena each morning and tie down the calves so that they will take the ties during the rodeo.
After those two jobs are done the other practice is grand entry practice, as I am sure many of you remember watching last year when Patrick Smith tried to enter the All Around competition at the last minuet and rode his saddle bronc during the grand entry. There will be approximately 105 mounted contestants and many other flag girls in the arena all at the same time which is a formula for some horses to become nervous. The lights and the crowd and the music all affect these horses as well so by getting them into the arena during the practice it is a chance to show them that they will be ok and avoid another incident of someone getting bucked off. SO as far as I know or have been told I will be spending my days in the company of the animal athletes that my "Boss" will be taking to practice and compete on. All total I think I will have six head of horses out there and they will require daily grooming and and exercise along with transportation to and from the arena.
I will be leaving my home in KS the day after Thanksgiving and I will be leaving TX to head to Vegas that Saturday. In my mind it will be an adventure I am sure many of you have thought or dreamt of being behind the chutes in the alley at the NFR watching the cowboys who you have come to admire prepare to compete. It is a place that I assume is filled with intense concentration yet gracious humility and respect for your fellow contestants. There are so very many things to look forward to and experiences to have that I am sure it will be overwhelming. I hope to have some other insights to share with you all soon.
As I bring this weeks post to a close we are drawing closer and closer to the opening round I hope many of you are as excited as I am. I hope you have enjoyed your View from the Drivers Seat and until next time God Bless and good roping.