JAKE BARNES

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Departments - By Jake Barnes with Ken­dra San­tos

While work­ing on this first is­sue of The Team Rop­ing Jour­nal in July, we were rop­ing over the long­est score­lines in the sport at the Cal­i­for­nia Rodeo in Sali­nas, which has a 35-foot score­line, and “The Daddy of ’em All” in Cheyenne, Wyo., where the score is set out there 30 feet. About the time this hits your hands in Septem­ber, all the guys gun­ning to make this year’s Wran­gler Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo will be bat­tling it out on the grass at the Pendle­ton (Ore.) Round-Up. Recre­ational rop­ers might never face a 35-foot score­line or have to rope on a high school foot­ball field that’s a rodeo arena one week out of the year. But sooner or later we all rope un­der ex­treme con­di­tions of one kind or an­other—be it in knee-deep mud or un­der the stress that comes with high-stakes events, such as the World Se­ries of Team Rop­ing Fi­nale in Las Ve­gas or USTRC Fi­nals in Ok­la­homa City.

This is my 37th year out here fig­ur­ing out how to ex­e­cute suc­cess­fully, in­clud­ing un­der ad­verse or pres­sure-packed con- di­tions. The pucker fac­tor is real for all of us. Pre­tend that last one is for $150,000 in the prac­tice pen, be­cause it re­ally does get eas­ier with ex­pe­ri­ence. I felt like I was jump­ing off a cliff my rookie year, just like ev­ery­body else. There are fac­tors be­yond our con­trol, like the luck of the draw. What we all need to fo­cus on is the things that are in our power to con­trol.

Find­ing a horse that suits your skill level, and also pick­ing a horse that fits the con­di­tions you’re go­ing to face is a re­ally good start as you work to­ward suc­cess. The World Se­ries and USTRC do a good job of con­trol­ling the con­di­tions for recre­ational rop­ers, so what most rop­ers need is a solid, re­li­able horse that will ba­si­cally just let you fo­cus on your rop­ing. He doesn’t have to be a big, fancy, high-pow­ered horse, like what you might see some of the big dogs rid­ing. In fact, get­ting a horse that’s ei­ther too green or too much is one of the most com­mon mis­takes recre­ation- al rop­ers make when horse shop­ping. The last thing you need when you back in there for $100,000 is a horse that’s bad in the box, wants to run through the bar­rier, or drop his shoul­der or cheat you in any way.

The op­por­tu­ni­ties to win big money rop­ing to­day are so great that you need a horse you can win on right now. An “old faith­ful” that won’t cost you and is pretty au­to­matic is the ticket when the big money’s up, be­cause he lets you fo­cus on your rop­ing. You also need to weigh a horse’s strengths and weak­nesses, and pri­or­i­tize what’s im­por­tant to you. A horse that can re­ally run might sound good at Sali­nas and Cheyenne, but if he won’t sit there and score, he’s worth­less.

Keep work­ing on your horse­man­ship. The bet­ter your horse­man­ship, the more op­tions you’ll have. You’ll also be able to get more out of what­ever horse you are rid­ing, as you keep search­ing for the next up­grade.

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