Breaking It Down

Speed Williams

Just last month there was a rodeo, RFD’s The American, held where cowboys and cowgirls could compete for up to $1,000,000. Each event consisted of the top 10 in the world, five contestants who qualified, and then one or two exemption contestants who were invited. 

Because Randy Bernard gave a few exemptions in The American, we got to see Charmayne James run barrels, Dan Mortensen ride a saddle bronc horse, Ote Berry wrestle steers, and Joe Beaver and Fred Whitfield rope calves. Randy couldn’t choose between Jake, Clay and I (Rich was already qualified) so he invited us to rope with partners of our choice.

This month I’m going to talk about failing to execute and what you can do to give yourself the best chance to win. This subject is rather dear to me, as I have experienced mishaps in the last three out of four big ropings where I had a chance to win a lot of money.

Last year at the George Strait Team Roping Classic I came back 4th high call. When I grabbed my slack, I accidentally grabbed my reins with my right hand. This caused me to lose my slack and my rope bounced off the left horn. 

I feel sure there are plenty of folks who, while sitting on the couch at home, were very critical of the team roping at the NFR this year. This is the first time in many years the steers were big – big horns, big frames – and they were fresh. It’s very hard to execute 4-second runs when steers are fresh and don’t have a pattern. What I mean by no pattern is when the gate bangs the steer doesn’t start, hesitates, and then starts off slow. This causes the header to have to pull. Then, when the steer leaves, he’s not running to the back end. He’s moving left or right and not going steady in any one direction. The steers were fresh enough that when the headers hit them hard in the corner, in that little arena, they came out of the corner with their legs spread. That makes it very difficult to throw fast or catch two feet.

This month I’m going to talk about mental preparation. Some call it confidence and some call it being prepared. Truthfully many times it comes down to how well you can lie to yourself. If you have missed three steers in a row and you have just one more run, you need to be able to back in the box with the confidence that you can catch the steer. Once you lose that mental confidence and start worrying about what can go wrong, your odds of catching go way down.