A New Week
We’ve got plenty of rodeos left this summer. There’s a lot of money to be won. You just gotta keep going.
This summer, my twelve-year-old brother, Holden, was in Casper, Wyoming, to watch me win the College National Finals Rodeo. A week later, when he roped in the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo, I couldn’t be there in person, because I was in Canada, preparing to start my first Fourth of July run. But in one of the early perfs, he broke the barrier and was feeling pretty bad about it. I sent him a text and told him to keep his head up. That’s part of rodeoing, I wrote. You just gotta go knock a couple more calves down and make the short round. That’s just what he did. He came back sixteenth and finished ninth—out of 75 tie-down ropers.
Two days ago, after my Cowboy Christmas was over, I met up with Holden—and my dad and my sister, Harley—at a Town Pump gas station off I-90 near Billings, Montana. It was lunchtime, and we traded rigs. Dad and Harley drove my living-quarters trailer and my horses, Beyoncé and Jaysnic, home to Miles City. Me and Holden went the other way, hauling a couple of our ranch horses to check on some cows we keep in Roundup and Forsyth.
Holden knew I’d had a terrible week, but he didn’t really bring it up. He don’t say a whole lot. We just jammed out in the truck.
He didn’t have to say anything. I’m hard enough on myself.
I had heard stories of guys having bad luck during Cowboy Christmas, but it really didn’t hit me until last week. When I started the week, I had big plans. My goals were set high. But I didn’t draw the best. I probably had four or five calves get up on me. It seemed like it was raining and muddy everywhere I went. At Ponoka, I had a calf check-off, and I figure-eighted the tail. The calf was right there, and I took two swings. It was so easy. But then she slowed down when the rope hit her, and I was, like, Ah, crap.
I won a check early on, in the first round at Ponoka. It was a three-way tie for the seventh hole and paid $844. And then I went to twelve rodeos straight and didn’t win a dollar. I was, like, Holy smokes! It was hard to drive all night and then not draw good the next day. It was only a week, but it felt like a marathon. I dropped from sixth place to ninth in the PRCA standings.
Meeting up with Holden and checking on our cows felt good. That’s something I love. Saddling up and going out there, getting away from everything and just hanging out is refreshing. We checked their water and doctored a sick calf. I was looking forward to practicing when we got home. After last week, I really wanted to practice.
We got home to the ranch around 8:00 o’clock that night. Mom had supper ready for us. Twenty minutes later, before we could practice, it started hailing. Then the rain came down. I got caught out in it. “We’ll practice tomorrow,” Dad said.
It rained all night and started up again the next morning.
“I swear,” I told my mom, “I think the rain just follows me.”
“Well, then, you can stay here, and the crops will keep growing good.”
“No, I’m getting out of here.”
I got a little practicing in that morning at the college’s indoor arena. And then, twenty-four hours after I got home, I loaded up Beyoncé and hit the road again.
Confidence is a big thing in rodeo. If you lose confidence in yourself, you’re not gonna do good. I’m hard on myself, but I try to get over it. I’ve had a great year and just need to keep going. If you sit there and think about what you could have done, you ain’t gonna get very far.
During the Fourth, when things weren’t going my way, I talked to a lot of guys—Shane, Reese Riemer, Cade Swor. Those are guys I look up to. They’re always there to pick you up. Everybody’s trying to win, but at the same time, we’re all pulling for each other. It’s great to have guys like that in your corner.
My dad’s in my corner, too. Before I left home, he said, “It’s a new week. Forget about last week, and go out and take care of business.”
And he’s right. We’ve got plenty of rodeos left this summer. There’s a lot of money to be won. You just gotta keep going.