Balancing Act

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

I had to play catch-up this year. Now we’re getting right down to the end of the season.

by J.W. Harris

On the Bubble

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Cowboy Journal is following seven CINCH and Classic Equine athletes as they fight to make the NFR. Follow the action: #theCjHASE

This is a new situation for me. Usually by Puyallup, I have the NFR sewed up, and there’s no pressure. This year, I won something like twelve-thousand dollars at Puyallup and climbed to eighteenth. If I would have rode my fourth-round bull another three-one-hundredths of a second, I wouldn’t be sitting on the bubble. But he just flat bucked me off.

This was my first year coming home to the PRCA from the PBR. It’s been slow—not the year I wanted, but it is what it is. Before I went over to the PBR, I probably entered a hundred or so rodeos a year. I’ve only been to forty-two this year.

Why so few? I’ve only got so many bulls left in me, so if I don’t draw a good bull, then I’m not going. I’m thirty-two years old, but some days I feel like I’m seventy. That’s part of it. Whenever you have a riding style like I do, which is don’t let go ’til your head hits the ground, you’re gonna take some beatings and stompings. I’m not ready to quit by any means. I just feel like I can make the NFR getting on the good ones.

I had to play catch-up this year. This being my first year back, I wasn’t able to get into some of them good rodeos in the winter, like San Antone, Denver and Austin. And then in the spring I didn’t go to hardly any because I was busy coaching.

I never thought of being a coach because of my schedule, but things change whenever you’ve got your own. I’ve got a girl who played softball for the first time and a boy who played tee-ball. I tried to enter around some of them games, but for the most part I just didn’t go. I was having too much fun.

I think I learned ninety percent of my coaching by rodeoing—how to stay on an even plane whether you’re winning or losing. It’s easy to get complacent when you’re winning, and it’s easy to have a sour attitude when you’re getting your butt kicked. You gotta learn how to balance all that out. My little girl’s team lost their first four games. I told them, We’re here to win, but if you’re going to lose, at least lose in style and go out swinging. They ended up winning the rest of their games. Ten and four. They made a drastic improvement. We dang sure had fun.

I want to be there for my kids, no matter what they’re doing. Everybody has always said that you can’t balance family life and rodeo. I always say, Yeah, you can. You just gotta ride good enough.

We’re getting right down to the end of the season, where I need to be going to as many rodeos as I can, but my son’s first football game is Saturday, and I’m not going to miss the football game. This week, I could be going to Texarkana and Amarillo, but I only entered the Extreme Bulls at Oklahoma City on Friday. After that, I’m driving home, and we’re gonna play some flag football.

If I win Oklahoma City, that will pretty much get me to the NFR. I might be putting all my eggs in the Oklahoma City basket, but I feel like I’m seasoned enough that I can go up there and make it work. A lot depends on what bull I draw, of course. The bulls up there are pretty dadgum good. I know what I’m capable of doing. I just need to go out and do it.

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