Raising Kids in the Arena – August 2019

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    Making a plan and living with the outcome

    The National Junior High School Finals are over and everyone is back home from Huron, South Dakota. This was Hali’s last year for Junior Rodeo and she had made a plan.

    Last year she was the Texas Junior High Reserve Breakaway champion. Afterwards, at nationals, she won third. When we left there she said, “Dad, I want to try and win first next year.” That has not been her mindset in the past. For years I’ve had to push her to go fast and try to make her leave her comfort zone where she can safely catch. So, this year at the Texas Junior High finals in Gonzales, she was a little more aggressive and ended up winning state.

    While she was practicing for nationals her mindset was to be aggressive. We talked about it a lot. I told her, “Sometimes things don’t go according to plan when you try to win first. Your daddy knows all about that.” I know, because I have that gene in me that makes me want to win first. She has never really wanted to gamble much with her roping. Through the years she didn’t want to miss or feel like she failed. So for her to head to nationals with a “win first” mindset was new. We talked about it in great detail before she left. As long as she wasn’t going to get upset and down if she missed, I agreed a hundred percent with her gambling to try and win first. As long as she knew and accepted that her catch percentage decreased in this scenario.

    I had lessons scheduled that week and was flying up on Thursday. She ran her first calf on Monday. We talked on the phone after she found out what she drew. Her calf stepped to the right hard, but we have practiced that shot many, many times. What we didn’t anticipate was the amount of rain they would get in Huron and how boggy the ground would get.

    Her calf broke and went right. She got a great start but when she threw her rope, her calf slowed up quite a bit. I was watching on Ride Pass. My phone rang two minutes after she rode out of the arena. My answer to her was, “Hali, I might have missed that calf because he changed speed and direction when you were throwing your rope.”

    She said, “Dad I’m okay. I wanted to try to win first and I took the shot I wanted.” I was surprised at her response. What has made her such a good roper is she doesn’t like to miss. But she will be going to high school next year and she has the mindset that she has to leave her comfort zone and be more aggressive.

    She had a game plan that didn’t work, but I was very proud of how she handled herself. The next day she posted her thoughts on Instagram and Facebook. She talked about how initially she second guessed herself but realized she took the shot she wanted. Mostly she talked about how grateful she is to be able to compete and so very thankful that God has kept her safe.

    The rodeo community is very tight knit and these kids are dealing with the loss of Brander Smith, a fellow competitor from Arkansas, who was killed in an accident while practicing for nationals. My heart goes out to his family. I can’t even imagine.

    I did have a few calls from parents after Hali’s run. I told them she had a game plan and it didn’t work out. I’m going to support her decision and the consequences that come with it. I’m happy she’s starting to get more aggressive with her roping. We’ll see if it carries over to her team roping.

    It’s important to remember that sometimes things don’t go according to plan, especially if you’re trying to win first. You have to run that scenario through your mind and accept that it didn’t work out and ride out of the arena with your head held high. You’re not going to win first every time, especially if you steer or calf does something unexpected.

    You have to take the good with the bad and own the decision and plan you made, whether it works or not.

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