Trying to Win

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

Winning is not a verb out here. It’s a result. Roping good—I can control. Scoring good—I can control. I can’t control winning. That’s a result of me doing other things correctly. That’s what I’m going to keep focusing on.

by Matt Shiozawa
 
 

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I wish my Fourth run had gone differently. But I should have known better.

Historically, I don’t do well over the Fourth. I’ve had a few good runs here and there, but most years have been subpar.

Why do I head out for it every year? That’s a good question.

During the Fourth, the number of entries skyrockets. As a result, the calves are often fresh, which makes entering even more a luck-of-the-draw type deal. Fresh calves have usually only had one run on them, if that. They’re tough. That calf doesn’t know who you are or care. Your horse can work the best, you can throw the nicest loop, and that fresh calf can ruin your run. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set up a good run, my horse worked well, and then it came down to a fresh calf. That was the case at several this year. At Livingston, Montana, my green horse, Peppy, worked incredibly well, but I got kicked by a fresh calf and almost run over. Like I said, these are just the odds during the Fourth.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen


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While I was driving, I had plenty of time to think, and I kept thinking about my approach to the Fourth. I’m going to take away a different deal from this year’s run. I don’t like the fresh cattle. I think those are the worst odds, so I’ll probably try to avoid those kinds of rodeos next year. My biggest mistake this year was not going to Greeley. The Greeley calves always go to two rodeos beforehand, and I have a good track record there. This year, I only had a few days to work Greeley into my schedule and had to draw out. I’ll prioritize that rodeo next year.

This year, I got caught in the old-fashioned trap of “trying to win.” That’s when you put the results before the effort and the action. Everyone does it. You hit a slump, and you catch yourself saying things like, “Man, I need to win something.” But that’s not what gets results. What gets results is execution of the small things. You work on the basics. You peel the layers of the onion back to the fundamentals. That’s what tennis players do. That’s what we need to do, too.

Winning is not a verb out here. It’s a result. Roping good—I can control. Scoring good—I can control. I can’t control winning. That’s a result of me doing other things correctly. Sticking to the fundamentals. It’s a mindset change, and it’s a humbling one. That’s what I’m going to keep focusing on.

During the Fourth, I slipped six spots in the standings down to 26th. I’m not too worried. After the Fourth, the summer rodeos tend to get better for me—not easier, but I usually start winning more. I need one or two good hits to be right back on my average. Ideally, I’ll get two or three and be back in the middle of the pack before long.

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