The future of rodeo for our kids

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Breaking it Down by Speed Williams – July 2023

After watching the Texas Junior High and High School Rodeo finals this week, what a great opportunity for kids to compete against other kids and learn about the sport of rodeo. My kids have come up the ranks in both divisions and that experience is invaluable. There are many opportunities in rodeo now for these kids, especially the girls because of the popularity of Breakaway and how much it’s growing, with no real end in sight.

Hali has had an incredible year and is currently leading the WPRA standings in Breakaway. She should cross $100,000 in earnings this week and its only June. Right now, in the state of Texas, they’re getting more Breakaway ropers than any other event at the rodeos. With this boom in the sport, the big question is if it will ever be an event in the Thomas & Mack during the NFR. I don’t know the answer to that, but the sport is growing, and I think it could be huge in the next three to five years.

My son is just 16 and doesn’t understand why he can’t go to the pro rodeos already. I had told him I would rodeo with him some this summer unless I found someone to take him. Manny Egusquiza called and asked if I minded if he hauled him all summer so they could try and qualify for the amateur finals. Gabe is all about it and now I’m off the hook.

I’m very excited for the opportunities available to my kids. There are so many things I’ve been able to teach them like how to deal with people, work with sponsors and all the people who help you. I’ve told them, when they make a mistake, admit to it, move on and try not to make the same mistake twice.

To be successful and professional in our industry, it’s important to be on time, conduct yourself professionally – in and out of the arena, and hold your head up even when you don’t do well. I’ve tried to pass on my father’s philosophy… When you ride out of the arena, it shouldn’t be obvious whether you’ve won the rodeo or fallen off your horse. You should meet the guy at the gate with a smile because you don’t know who is watching and what impact it might have on a young boy or girl.

I was not a very friendly person when I was competing. Some took it as being rude and some took it that I was not very conversational. But an hour before I roped, I tried not to engage in conversation because my mind would get distracted. Hali does a good job of staying focused. Gabe, on the other hand, will be talking to the heeler beside him five seconds before the gates bang. He doesn’t get stressed or real emotional. When he misses, he might get a little more dramatic than daddy likes. In my opinion everyone handles it differently. I don’t try force him to smile, but he does have to hold his head up.

There’s more to life than that one steer. There’s more going on in the world than that one run. You cannot get so caught up and emotional on one run that if affects you for days. It’s a big weakness for a lot of people. They can make one bad run that will manifest into ten bad runs. You need to be able to lie to yourself and believe it. It doesn’t matter how bad your last run was. When you back in the box you must have confidence and believe that your last run was good. When you second guess yourself, bad things happen. Draw your confidence from being prepared.

I want to thank Smarty for teaming up with me on the Speed Trainer. They have so many training products to help people in our industry. In many events they have tools to help people learn correctly, rather than taking years to learn how to ride their horse or get proficient in their event.

I’m always amazed at the reaction I get from #6 and #7 ropers who come to the house. I’m able to expose their weakness and mistakes on a stationery dummy sitting still. The look I get once they figure out how to use their left hand, their feet, and their body correctly is priceless. They are shocked at how much better they can control their horse. It really has been a game changer and I’m able to make a bigger difference for students in a much shorter amount of time.

That’s what Hali and I have done in her Breakaway training. I was able to set up different situations and positions, or what I call “around the world” shots. It’s like in basketball where players shoot from every position possible. Using the Speed Trainer I set up shots for her to make from many different positions and we don’t move until she makes the shot accurately.

I’m so thankful my kids have chosen to do something I can help them with. I don’t yell at my kids and most of the time they have to pry information out of me. Whenever Gabe is having a bad day he’ll say, “Dad, I know you know what I’m doing wrong, please tell me.” I tell him it’s his job to figure it out. When they can’t, I will show them the video and what needs to happen differently. When you have to figure it out yourself, you will always remember. A lesson learned the hard way stays in the memory bank longer.

I want to thank all the people who have helped me, and my kids, get to where we are now. The past, present, and future sponsors and clients. My family is living a blessed life and we couldn’t do it without you.

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