Planning Ahead

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

A guy is not going to have a chance to win at every rodeo. But if every time I draw a good one I use that opportunity, I think I’ll come out okay.

by Matt Shiozawa

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I’m a numbers guy. I’m kind of known for figuring out statistics and odds. I play the Fourth of July run like a game of cards.

My deal during this Fourth: If I have to fly to a rodeo or mount out, I’m just not going. Most guys don’t see it like that, but I try to make the smarter move, logistically speaking. I won’t buy a flight that I may or may not need. Driving is the safer bet. I factor in travel versus pay. Do I want to drive 500 miles for a chance at $2,000? Or do I want to drive 800 miles for $7,000?

I try to ride my own horses everywhere. If I mount out and ride someone else’s horse, I tend to do poorly. Based on past history, I might do well ten percent of the time. I used to think I picked bad horses, but I don’t think that’s the case. It’s just that I don’t rope good when I don’t know a horse. My horses aren’t necessarily better than someone else’s, but I know them. Ninety percent of the time I know exactly how they’re going to work.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

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I’m taking Chuck and Peppy on the road with me over the Fourth. Peppy loves a longer score. Chuck’s style and pattern are more suited to the faster, shorter setups and one-headers. Chuck is a ten-year veteran with me. Peppy is fairly new to the deal. He’s been with me for about three years. I don’t train my horses. I practice on them. They’re green when they start. After a couple years they make great horses. I start putting them in small rodeos, and then they become dependable winners.

My season over the winter was pretty awful. I got a few checks, but it was tough. You had guys that were making the National Finals just by winning Houston alone. I feel like I have to play catch-up. But, that being said, it gives me some motivation to get Peppy coming along. I just won the Wainwright Stampede in Alberta on Peppy. I had to push the agenda on him, and it’s been the best thing ever. He’s absolutely making a tremendous horse.

This year I’m traveling with Bo Pickett. He’s from Western Idaho. I’m from Chubbuck, Idaho, in the Southeastern corner of the state. Logistically, that gives us an advantage. We go through his neck of the woods for the Northwest rodeos. For the ones in Wyoming and Montana we go through my side.

A lot of these rodeos are close to home, so my wife, Ali, and our three girls can join me on the road some. Ali is beyond capable when it comes to driving and hauling rigs, and she loves to watch me compete. Anything too long and the girls get restless. They’re nine, seven and five, so they don’t do 800 miles in the truck!

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