A little while ago someone made the comment to me ‘I remember when you weren’t very good.’
It stung a little. As I’m pretty sure it was intended to.
I politely replied, ‘so do I.’
Because I do. I remember it vividly. Like it was yesterday. And there are still plenty of days where I don’t feel ‘very good.’ But I’ve come a long way. And more often than not, I went the long way around. Facepalm.
As with all memories, mine are tainted with hindsight, but we don’t know what we don’t know, right?! Gosh dang I made some mistakes. Here’s some of the biggest ones that held me back from being my best…
Horsepower. Or lack there of. I truly believe you never truly know what a great one feels like until you get to ride a great one. I rode an ok one that just didn’t fit me as a kid. Then I just got by on a bunch of average horses for years. They were just what I had and they weren’t good enough and I did nothing about it. And then I got the chance to ride a great one and realised that I needed one of my own. But I never did anything about finding or making one for a few more years after that. A great horse will make you! Make sure your horse fits you at your level and is bringing out the best in you.
I didn’t have any fundamentals or foundation. I grew up surrounded by rodeo and roping and learnt by imitation and doing. I didn’t actually understand how my rope worked and how to make it work. When I hit a rut the only way I knew to get out of it was through trial and error. Maybe it’s this. Maybe it’s that. I had roped for years but I didn’t actually know the basics. My roping done a permanent 180 the day I decided to be a student of the game.
The people in my corner weren’t actually ‘in my corner’. I spent years in a horrible marriage, I had toxic friends, and the people who clapped me on the back after a win weren’t actually clapping for me behind my back. The people around you matter. A lot. Whether you like it, fight it, or deny it, you are a product of your environment. Surround yourself with solid, honest, supportive people.
My mental game sucked. I was a nervous wreck every time I backed in. I talked to myself, about myself, so badly that there was no way I could convince myself I would catch a calf let alone win. I didn’t know how to focus. And on what? I was just going through the motions and hoping for the best. I worked hard to build a mental game that’s solid. And then consistency followed.
I competed for the wrong reasons. I rodeoed to escape my home life that became increasingly harder to suffer throughout my 20’s. Sure, I was trying to win. But not as much as I was trying to hide from the hell that was my personal life. I finally changed where I was living and my happiness bred success.
I practiced just to rope. Not for the sake of getting better. I was smashing out runs and reps but not actually working on anything. If I missed one I just ran another one. But they don’t run you another one at the rodeo. I had to learn to structure my practices around always striving to be a better roper. I had a long hard look at myself and my weaknesses and decided to build my practice sessions around fixing them.
I thought roping pretty mattered. It doesn’t. Roping fast matters. Pretty looks good in photos, fast looks great on cheques.
I never took risks. I played defence ALL THE TIME. I took extra swings, I made sure of it every run, and I missed a lot of opportunities because of it. Fortune favours the brave, and I had to learn to ride at the line and let it go.
I didn’t set goals. Sure there was things I wanted to achieve but I had a very ‘whatever happens’ attitude. Until I worked out that to get what you want you have to commit to wanting it. And you need a plan on how to get there. Better yet write it down somewhere.
Feel free to take my mistakes and learn from them to save some heartache. And time. I don’t mind, I’ve finished with them!
Happy roping ✌🏼