Breaking it Down by Speed Williams – May 2020


    Sheltering in place

    These are new and uncertain times not just for our country, but the whole world. I never thought I would see a time where all the churches and casinos were closed at the same time. Social distancing is understandable and done to slow the spread of the virus and to avoid overwhelming hospitals and medical staff. I have a great appreciation for those people who are working so hard and putting themselves at risk. This definitely seems like something you would see in the movies but never expect to happen in real life.

    Staying home and sheltering in place is totally foreign to most of us who are usually on the go. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be quarantined in a 1,000 square foot apartment in New York City. Most of us in the western lifestyle have animals to take care of and room to be outside. I feel blessed to live on a small ranch where we can still rope and have a never-ending list of chores. We finished our indoor about a week before the quarantine. We’ve been spending a lot of quality time together as a family. We play cards and rope in the evenings.

    As a competitor from a very young age, one of the most troubling things for me is not knowing what the future holds. When you rodeo for a living, you know where you will be 30 to 45 days in advance and have a fairly tight schedule. When I was done rodeoing, I started teaching schools and private clinics and created my online training site at So, having time off has never been much of an option. Trying to figure out what to do with that time has been a new thing for me. For 30 days prior to quarantine we had not had three or four days where I wasn’t teaching or we were hauling the kids. I had schools booked for two and a half weeks that had to be cancelled. Now we, like most people, can’t believe the world has stopped.

    Don’t get me wrong, we’re still busy. We get up in the mornings and the kids do their school work. Afterwards we do chores around the place and after dinner we saddle horses. We have lights in the arena and that’s what my son wants to do. The problem is, by the time we do our drills on the Speed Trainer, rope on the Hot Heels, work our horses, then rope two or three pens of steers, put the horses up, go in and watch the video and get ready for bed, it’s two or three in the morning. Our schedule is much like it is in the summer. I feel very fortunate that both my kids love to rope and that our lifestyle requires us to be outside. But I am nervous about what the future for our industry and what the world looks like for the next six months to a year.

    I do have to tell a funny story on my boy. Both of my kids do their drills on the Speed Trainer before we rope. Because I had been busy teaching, I had not been watching them do them. So instead of Gabe roping it for 10 or 15 minutes, I told him we would do five in a row correctly in each of his disciplines, heading, heeling, and breakaway, so we could finish a little quicker. Just five in a row correctly. There are a lot of little steps in heeling that I make him do so when we get on our horses we’re doing things correctly. He needs to have weight in his stirrups, stay square in the saddle, place his rope on the ground, pause, make sure his left hand stays in proper position when he dallies.

    We were on the Speed Trainer for over an hour and a half before he got all three of his disciplines done correctly the first day. All it takes is doing one little step wrong and you have to start over. Since we’ve implemented the “five in a row” method the transformation in the arena has been amazing. Being able to complete the procedures correctly without a bauble has really helped him progress in his riding and roping.

    If you are able to work at your roping right now, I encourage you to try this. I know kids like to make fast runs. But the goal should be five clean runs in a row with no mistakes. I hope everyone is staying safe and pray that we are able to return to some sort of normalcy sooner than later.

    The other day we implemented another drill that resulted in a contest between our kids. We had the kids each hook up a truck and trailer and they had to back about 200 feet across our old outdoor arena and get the trailer in between the poles we had set up. After they mastered that, I added a barrel for each to have to back around and then back between the poles. I can’t tell you how many times it’s necessary to back into tight spaces at rodeos. I’ve seen many rodeo cowboys and cowgirls that just never learned how. I want my kids to be comfortable behind the wheel and able to park in any situation. It was quite comical and great entertainment for Jennifer and I. Our family is very competitive as you might guess. I won’t spoil it and tell who won what, but you can watch the video at, for a chuckle.


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