Competing injured

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Breaking it Down by Speed Williams – December 2023

Of all the years I competed at the NFR, I think it was 15 or 16, I was probably injured half of the time at the finals. So, I have a little experience in preparing for the finals while injured. It is such a big event and now my daughter is competing at her first NFR in the Breakaway and is completely wounded.

It was a freak accident that happened while she was unloading a horse. He stumbled and when he caught himself, he was on top of her. He went down the side of her knee and landed on the side of her foot. At the time she thought she broke her foot but hobbled around and kept riding and roping.

She tried to compete at the circuit finals and UPRA finals and it only got worse. Then we had the MRI done and she couldn’t ride or rope and was completely shut down to heal. The MRI showed she has a tear in her tendon, and the tendon is partially torn from the bone. She also has a tear in her Achilles, and turf toe (strained ligaments) in her middle three toes. She has a hairline fracture on the side bone of her foot. She has had laser and all kinds of treatments on her foot.

She has qualified for her first NFR and has spent the last three weeks not doing anything. We just had her first two days of riding and roping on the Speed Trainer. We’ve watched videos and talked about some things. I’ve tried to stress to her that it’s better to be healthy at the finals than to practice a lot and be really sore when you get there.

We have to trust our fundamentals, but it does put a little pressure on me to have her horses working. It’s going to be very mentally challenging for her. She was so excited after making the finals and was roping up to 30 calves a day and really working hard on her roping. I had to remind her that she did make the finals and gets to rope in Las Vegas, even though she might not be at 100% or get to practice much beforehand. We are literally two weeks from leaving for the finals and she hasn’t roped or ridden a horse in over 20 days… until the last couple of days, and that’s only riding for about ten minutes at a walk and trot.

This is where the Speed Trainer will come in handy because we’re going to rope a lot more on it than we will live calves over the next couple of weeks. The Speed Trainer sure helps to show people the things they do on their horse. If you can’t do it sitting still on the Speed Trainer, you sure can’t while you’re moving fast.

Back when I was injured at the finals, it was very difficult for me because in my event, I had someone who I was responsible for their income as well. So, trying to compete at the finals when you’re not 100% you have to rely more on your horse and sometimes you can’t use all your ability. There will be a lot of people competing at the NFR that are not 100%, it happens every year.

The big difference for Hali is in the Breakaway finals all ten rounds are run in two days. The girls run five calves each day. So, if you tweak something you don’t have much time to get healed up before the next day. At the NFR, the ten runs are spread over ten days.

I can tell you from experience, it can really test your mental capabilities when you have to overcome pain and be able to block it out in order to function. The difference for Hali is having to do it five times in a row and be on her foot all day. Hopefully she’ll be healed enough that it won’t be detrimental.

I’m excited for her experience of getting to rope at the finals. I wish this didn’t happen on her first year. But I told her she’s like her daddy where we tend to get wounded in October and November. Might as well learn to embrace it, because the NFR only happens once a year.

The last two weeks I’ve been helping a few clients get ready for Vegas. I’ve been heeling and winning a little with some clients lately. It makes it fun when you can work on things all week and then go put it into practice at the ropings.

My son is headed to Arizona and has been working on his heading. There are more opportunities for him to win heading in the jackpots than heeling against the top 15 at the Open jackpots. I am very excited about the process of teaching my son to head, and letting it be his decision about what end he wants to pursue. He heels outstanding and rides a horse well. We still have a lot of work to do on his heading, but I think he is starting to enjoy it. I won’t be roping in Arizona this year as Hali has “reserved me” to help her get ready.

I wish everyone good luck in Arizona and Las Vegas. If you don’t happen to come home with a big check, you might think about using the Speed Trainer to improve your roping and upping your game. There is so much money up for grabs now days in team roping. Why would you not learn to ride your horse the best you can. Working at your roping, especially on the Speed Trainer, is not easy. It will, however, open your eyes to how well you ride your horse. Most people don’t realize how much they pull on their horse while using the bridle reins for balance.

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