Making a Game Plan

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

There are so many variables every single night—gate, steer, hazer, horses. When everything comes together, it’s almost like snapping your fingers.

by Nick Guy

By this point, we know these steers. They only run three sets at the NFR, so during these last rounds, this is the third time we’ve seen the same set. It gives you a chance to form a game plan. We get our draw a couple hours before the rodeo. They’ve got DVDs of past performances. We watch the tapes, talk to our hazers and put together a plan based on the behavior of that individual steer—anything to knock a couple of tenths off your time.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.


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A guy gets here and wants to go so fast, but sometimes you gotta slow down and make that steer hit flat. When they hang a leg, those tenths of a second run by pretty darn fast. You can go from being 4.0 flat with a clean fall to being 4.5 and hanging a leg pretty quick. At the NFR those flat falls are important.

On Monday night, during Round Five, I drew a steer that looked a little weaker. My game plan was to catch him and be patient. But I got such a good head catch on him I rushed things. He was a little raggy. He fell the wrong way, and I had to roll him out of it. I ended up being 7.4. I think if I had stuck to my original plan of trying to slow down and let things develop, I would have been alright. You get in your own way if you try to go too fast.

The next night, Round Six, I drew a steer that they had done some good on. I think maybe they were 4.3 on him and won a little bit of a check. I knew he was going to leave and run and get on the ground. I knew I could take an aggressive start, ride up in there and really set up my go. If I got a good go, I knew I could get a flat fall out of him. That was my plan, and it worked. He fell flat, and I was 4.1 and split third, fourth and fifth.

There are so many variables every single night—gate, steer, hazer, horses. When the game plan works, and everything comes together, it’s almost like snapping your fingers.


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