The Long Game

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

Our Plan A went to Plan B real quick.

by Brady Minor

Last night was one of the toughest rounds I’ve seen in the team roping. In Rounds One and Two, a 4.4 would have placed second and third. Last night, 4.4 didn’t even place.

When team roping starts out hot, it amps guys up. That’s what happened last night. Me and Riley started it off. We were the first team out and were 4.1. Which is a good thing, since this NFR didn’t start out very good for us.

In Round One, we took a no-time. Our game plan was probably like everybody’s—to catch all ten head. So our Plan A went to Plan B real quick.

The second night didn’t go too well either. I didn’t ride a very good position and roped a leg to place that night.

It’s a little early in the week to start panicking. When you miss the first one, you might think, I’m out of the average. I’m gonna have to go for the go-rounds. I told Riley, We’re not out of the average if we catch the rest of them. They’re gonna pay on nine head in the team roping. So we need to rope like we’re still in the average. With go-rounds paying twenty-six thousand a night, everybody’s throwing fast. Somebody’s gonna take a spill trying to win first.

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Team roping is a little different from other timed events. In calf roping they get to carry a second rope, and if they miss, they’ve got a thirty-second time limit to try again. Just the other night, Tuf Cooper missed, jumped back on his horse and ended up catching his calf with a second loop. In bulldogging, if you don’t jump the steer, you’ve got thirty seconds to keep trying. What that means is a lot of guys have times on ten head. It used to be that way in the team roping. Whether the header missed or the heeler missed, one of you got to rebuild your loop and try again, with a thirty-second time limit. You might have been twenty-nine seconds, but at least you had all your cattle caught. I can’t remember when they changed it—maybe four or five years ago.

I think last year only one team caught all ten steers. Three teams caught nine and the average paid on eight head after that. So, no, we’re not completely out of the average. But we can’t afford to take a spill later in the week. I’m still going for smart catches and am hoping to be fast enough to place in some rounds along the way. I’m still hoping for an average check at the end. Last night helped. I rode the position I wanted, got down the arena a little faster and we were 4.1. I didn’t feel like we exposed ourselves too much last night, and we won second. For being first out, I was real satisfied with that result.

At the NFR, things change every round. Somebody drops out of the average. One night can turn your whole week around. We take it day by day and learn more every night.

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