How Roping School Help (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

The “fourth of July marathon” is over for another year. In the past I’ve worked the fourth a number of ways. This year The Pharr’s and I split our rigs up in two different directions and would either ride with the rig or fly. Between us, we won almost $50,000 in eight days. By splitting up rigs I was able to send my best three horses to different rodeos and win first on each one of them. It’s a prime example of the benefits of having and keeping good horses, the subject of last month’s article.

Since Reno I’ve won about $30,000, placing in both rounds and winning the average at Prescott; placing in the second round at Greeley; winning the second round at Pecos; splitting first at St. Paul, Oregon and winning Vernall, Utah.

I don’t feel like I’ve done anything extraordinary to accomplish this. I’ve just tried to go rope and tie down every calf the best that I can. It sounds simple and actually it is – especially at a time like this. I missed one of my calves at Reno during the Tour Finale and as disappointing as that was, I couldn’t let that devastate me and cause me to miss the next one.

Some ropers will miss a calf and then go rope the dummy a hundred times. You didn’t miss because you forgot how to rope. It’s simple. You made a mistake. Get over it and don’t do it again. Letting one mistake lead to another is what happens to almost all ropers. Know that every run is a new opportunity.

I taught a school in Farmington, Utah, the week before Reno, which was beneficial for me before the fourth of July. When teaching I stay with the basics and try to keep it simple. Having to break roping down to the base fundamentals always helps my roping.

Teaching can be very rewarding and I enjoy it. Now days I don’t rope and flank and tie as much at my schools as I used to, but am more exhausted at the end of the day. A friend of mine said it’s mental exhaustion from trying so hard. After thinking about that comment, he’s absolutely right.

I respect everyone who comes to a school, because by being there they want to get better. I like to think I’m trying to get better every day. As a teacher I want to give everything I’ve got and when it’s over I want my students saying, “Wow.”

Learning to rope is a progressive process. For instance if you are just learning, you can hear everything I have to say to someone that’s been roping for ten years, but you won’t be able to apply it because you’re not at that place in the process yet. Everyone is able to absorb a certain amount of information and you can’t control that.

People who show the most improvement are those that attend a school at least annually. The reason is because they absorb the information and principles that fit their roping at that time and then take time putting it into practice. Six months or a year later they have advanced in the process and are ready for more information. By doing this systematically, whether it’s annually or semi-annually, their roping steadily advances and their progress is obvious.

Most things learned in a school must be accomplished in time. It’s a slow process and there’s no quick shortcut in learning to rope. It takes time and repetition.

When it comes to roping, the sky is the limit – if you’re willing.