By Speed Williams
This month we’re going to talk about how the luck of the draw plays a major factor in the sport of rodeo. Recently we went to the Texas Junior High School finals in Gonzales, Texas. Gabe and his partner, Denton Parrish, ended up winning state and qualified for the Junior High National Finals. In the short round they drew a steer on the stronger end and did a good job of making qualified run. They won the average and overall points. I was very proud of them and the hard work they’ve put in.
The next week Hali competed in the breakaway at the Texas High School finals in Abilene. She was 2.2 on her first calf. Her second calf made a hard move to the left when the barrier rope pulled. This happens a lot and I’ve experienced it myself quite a bit in calf roping. But in calf roping you have the luxury of two or three swings and setting up your run. But in breakaway, even at the high school level, you need to be under six on two, or a low five to end up in the top 15. Since Hali won third in the first round with a 2.2 on a calf that stepped left, it put pressure on her to get a great start and not miss the barrier on her second calf that moved hard left.
She got a good start but the calf went left earlier than when we watched him go. He went left before the neck rope pulled. She took an extra swing and when she threw, the calf moved back to the right causing her rope to hit early. This opened her loop and he ran through it. I was very proud of her because she didn’t get upset even though that kept her from qualifying for Nationals. Sometimes there are variables we cannot overcome and it’s not helpful to be hard on yourself when things are out of your control. We talked about it afterwards and discussed the fact that she didn’t mess up. She didn’t break the barrier or miss the calf. She got out, got it on him and he ran through it.
Sometimes, when you have to go fast, the odds of success go down. In breakaway, with a hard move to the left so many angles change. I was very proud of her riding out of the arena, her comment was, “That’s a shot I need to work on.” I agree because in breakaway, especially at the rodeos, that is going to happen a lot. Next year she wants to start going to some of the amateur rodeos.
One of the big challenges of rodeo is drawing a calf or steer that will give you a chance to win. It can be very exciting or disappointing when you see what you’ve drawn. The odds of winning decrease if you draw a difficult animal; one that is extremely fast or one that runs hard to the right or left. Ultimately the draw is a big factor of whether you can win or place at a rodeo. It’s important to keep a positive attitude and not get upset when we draw a difficult animal.
We didn’t have the worst calf in the perf that day. We had a calf that gave us a chance, but it was on the difficult side. Sometimes you’re in the wrong end of the hat and there’s nothing you can do when you draw bad. One year over July 4th I was on one end or the other of the draw. My steer either walked out and stopped or was the runner of the herd. It’s very hard to overcome the runner of the herd when the box is 20 feet long or more.
It’s very difficult to stay focused and positive when you’re drawing inconsistently. You have to keep a positive attitude and be able to lie to yourself and tell yourself you did good on the last one so you can back in the box with confidence. Believe me, I understand this. I went to the NFR $30,000 in the lead and messed up on the first three steers. We came back and placed in the next seven rounds to win the world. Regardless of how little sleep I’d gotten the night before, when I backed in the box, I had convinced myself I’d placed in the previous three rounds. When things aren’t going well, you must lie to yourself, and believe it, to be able to react to the steer and not second guess yourself.
What’s new with me: At the time of writing this article, we are making plans to travel to Florida for some clinics, while also planning the trip to the Junior High National Finals. Later this summer we will be having a clinic at our place, probably in August. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or check at speedroping.com for upcoming details.