Living the Dream (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Whenever you watch professional cowboys being interviewed at the NFR or any other big win, it must seem like a dream come true. And in reality, it is – but what you don’t see is all the preparation prior to that moment of glory.

Last week I had to pack everything before heading out to Reno, knowing my rig may not be home until September. This was a very hectic and exhausting three-day job. I’ve got two rigs going, hauling four horses so that I can make more rodeos. That means both rigs need to be outfitted. Also during this three-day period I was making travel arrangements, arranging trades for rodeos, etc., etc. In addition to this, I was practicing like a man possessed.

Sometime during the second day when I started getting stressed out and tired, I stopped and thought about how different it is now than when I first started going in 1994. Back then I had one rig and did all the driving. I would load several pigging strings and if I had one or two ropes I really liked I was happy as a lark.

Now I have about fifty top quality pigging strings, six cans of great feeling ropes, more than two week’s worth of clothes – all that goes in two rigs with their respective drivers. As hard as it is to organize this conglomerate of equipment, it dawned on me that I was living the dream that I was chasing in 1994.

While this list might sound like overkill to many, I have learned over the years to leave nothing to chance and no stone unturned. Being prepared and covering all the bases two or three times is far better than to wonder if I could have done more after the fact. Therefore I pay attention to every detail and don’t want to use second string anything.

To be prepared at this level involves a lot work behind the scenes that is pure drudgery. At the NFR I know I’m going to reach a point of exhaustion due to this drudgery and that’s when I have to remind myself that I’m not at an invitational event. A lot of sacrifices by family and friends were made so that I could be there.

So while you might catch glimpses of what looks like a “rock star” life – that is only a glimpse. The other ninety-five percent of the time I’m just a regular guy with mundane jobs that need to be done.

When I practice at home, there’s a team of people that are part of this. I told them the other day that I’m tired of roping for nothing. I’ve been home practicing and made run after run that would draw a check at a rodeo.

At any rate, once I actually put things in perspective and thought about how much better I rodeo than I did in ’94, I actually started enjoying loading the trailer. Occasionally I remind myself to get my Bible out where I have this quotation jotted down:

“Can you remain a nobody when everyone around you is telling you you’re a somebody.”