Handling success and defeat


Breaking it Down – April 2023

There are many opinions about how to conduct yourself before and after a run. The other night, my daughter missed a calf at the American Rodeo semi-finals for the opportunity to run a calf for $600,000. Her calf moved to the right as she threw, and she roped him around the eyes. She looked up, smiled, and waved, and rode out with her head held high. There was no jerking, no fit thrown, and no emotion shown. I was very proud of her and how she handled that failure on such a big stage.

Hali has been doing an outstanding job in the Breakaway. I’m so happy she has an opportunity to make a living with a rope now with what the girls can rope for. In the past when girls got out of college there were very limited opportunities. I believe in the next three to five years the Breakaway will be huge because there are so many girls getting into it and having a chance to win something.

My father was old school and didn’t believe in showing emotion. If someone was watching as you rode out of the arena, they should not know whether you caught or missed, and you did not have a temper tantrum in the arena. There’s a saying, “show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” Everyone has the right to handle their emotions their own way and how it drives them to be better. Not showing emotion was what my father instilled in me.

How to conduct yourself, in and out of the arena, is something I hope I’ve instilled in my kids, like my father taught me. You don’t go around telling people how good you are. You let others say that. I’ve never been one to complain about how things are going, when drawing bad or when things aren’t going as planned. You must go back and look at the basics of your run. I always believed in filming all my runs and evaluating the common denominator. Sometimes you don’t draw up good at the rodeo and sometimes you don’t draw the best stock.

The first night at Houston we had a calf that Hali told me was laying down in the pen and had long hair. She was the last to go and her calf beat her out. When she got to him, he almost stopped and went left. I was not allowed behind the chutes at Houston. Afterwards, she said, “He was laying down and they had to pick him up, so I gave him a little extra on the start and he got away.”

I told her, “Honey, I think you made the right choice because of how he looked. I didn’t think he would have run either. With that long of a box and how fast your horse is, if he had not checked off, you would still have been able to win something.”

When we got the draw tonight, we had a good calf they roped around the ears but was slow and stepped to the right. My advice was, “Score good, get your tip down and let your horse do this thing.” She was 2.9 and ended up winning the round tonight. It was a different smile tonight than last night. Last night she knocked her hat off and could have fallen off because her horse didn’t know what her hat was and didn’t like it behind him.

Most parents raise their kids how they think will best challenge them to get better. But it’s important to understand the sport of rodeo. Every day is a new day. The stock you draw doesn’t know or care who you are.

I’ll never forget after winning the world in 1997, the first jackpot and rodeo we went to was Odessa. The very first two steers I ran at a jackpot, I missed both while riding my great horse, Bob. That was something that hardly ever happened. I rode out of the arena thinking it doesn’t matter if you have a gold buckle or not. Every day is a new day, and you have to earn it every day.

I will say Hali is adamant about hauling the Speed Trainer with her to the winter rodeos so she can practice her loops from all angles. I’m excited she understands the benefits because for a long time she didn’t like it because it exposed the holes in her roping. I told her there was no sense in penning and running calves if she couldn’t catch from the Speed Trainer while sitting still. We’ve worked very hard so she can her legs and hands correctly. It’s been such a valuable tool in teaching my kids how to ride and rope, and not just rope.

I’m very excited for the success Hali is having so far. We have two more years before Gabe is 18 and gets his opportunity. He just doesn’t understand why he can’t go to the rodeos like his sister is.


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