By Speed Williams
speedroping.com

Roping has been part of my life as long as I can remember. The story goes that I used to rope my dad’s toes before I could walk. He had a big dog they used to put a small saddle on and I would ride him and rope anything that got in my way. But, in my entire career, never before have I backed in the box where my partner and I could win over half a million dollars like we did at the American Rodeo. I sure hope our sport continues to grow and people get more opportunities to rope or rodeo for that kind of money.

Roping has been part of my life as long as I can remember. The story goes that I used to rope my dad’s toes before I could walk. He had a big dog they used to put a small saddle on and I would ride him and rope anything that got in my way. But, in my entire career, never before have I backed in the box where my partner and I could win over half a million dollars like we did at the American Rodeo. I sure hope our sport continues to grow and people get more opportunities to rope or rodeo for that kind of money.

Wesley Thorp and I made it through the qualifications, and won the semi-finals, to have the opportunity to compete at The American. I got to practice full contact runs and really work at competing for the first time in a long while. Due to a bulging disc in my neck I’ve had a couple of years off from that level of competition. I’m excited that my neck doesn’t hurt anymore and it feels good to ride and rope again.

My son had never seen his dad make a 3-second run before and I gained a new fan at The American. 

Last year George Strait announced he would no longer be putting on his annual roping. Putting on an event of that magnitude is a huge job that he’s done for 35 years, so I totally understand him retiring the event. Regardless, it’s a roping that will be sorely missed by professional ropers.

The Strait was usually held during the first couple of weeks in March. This year Austin Robertson decided to produce a roping in Stephenville with almost the identical format as the Strait, called the Lone Star Shootout. The fees were $550/man, enter three times, and they took the fastest 10 teams from each rotation on Friday to rope in three-head finals on Saturday. They allowed 10 #16 teams to qualify, so the finals on Saturday consisted of 60 teams. Several of the #16 teams ended up placing.

My preparation prior to this roping was probably one of the best practice sessions I’ve had in a long time. My horses worked outstanding and I only missed one cow all week. I was reaching and it was like the old days when I felt I could do anything with my rope. Feeling confident, I go to the roping, rope three steers and don’t make it out of the first round with any partner.

As I nodded on my first steer, he turned his head and when I threw, he took a step into me and I missed the left horn. On my second run, I got a great start on a good steer and got it on him as the barrier rope came off. My loop hit him in the shoulder and came off the left horn. My third steer was good and I hung it on him fast. Clay O roped him fast, missed his dally and lost his rope. 

At the junior high rodeos, Hali has a nickname for me, “rope boy” and works me like a slave. She has always been my helper at the ropings, so I return the favor at her rodeos. The only difference is my event usually lasts a couple of hours and hers are all day. After my third run she came to the trailer and asked if I was okay, I told her I wasn’t upset because I didn’t think I did anything wrong. Sometimes things happen that you can’t do anything about. Not knowing the steers and being able to make a plan accordingly is a disadvantage, but can’t be helped. I don’t like not making day two, but there’s no sense in beating yourself up over something you can’t control.

Occasionally I get calls from friends on the rodeo trail when things are going wrong. I remind them not to beat themselves up over things they can’t control. I ask if they could have prepared differently or backed in the box with a different plan knowing what they know now. You have to prepare to overcome whatever happens when the gates bang. 

That’s the name of the game and that’s why I always film and go back and watch it. Was it your horse, your legs, your swing? Was it something you should have done different? Sometimes things just happen you can’t over come and you need to shake those off and keep going. 

Take the NFR for example…I’ve had some horrendous first performances there. I lost my rope once. Had my rope get under my horse’s tail, which has maybe happened to me once ever, much less at the NFR. I’ve missed a couple in the first round. That’s not to say I wasn’t sick and didn’t rerun those steers hundreds of times in my mind, but when I ran the next one 23 hours and 59 minutes later I had self-inflicted confidence from lying to myself to believe I had spun the last one to win the round. The worst thing you can do is second guess yourself in this sport. Understanding what happened and being able to fix it and move forward is the name of the game.

What’s new with me: On speedroping.com I’ve loaded my runs from the American and Lone Star with voice-overs. I’ve also had a dream come true. Since we left Vegas this year my son has had a rope in his hand ever since. He ropes the goat, Hot Heels, whatever he can find. It’s been exciting for me to teach my son what I love to do. To have my son and my daughter in the arena helping me with my schools is priceless to me.

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