A couple of weeks ago I announced on Facebook that I was “relaunching” RodeoRookie.com. In 2012 when I developed the idea, built the site, and took off with the Goob, I was full of questions, ideas and hope. The web page gave me paths to many different opportunities and ways to channel my energy and passion for a sport and horse that I love. After our ‘run in’ with tough luck, my motivation for the site completely vanished and I let it disappear.
Four years later, I’ve found the inspiration to let RodeoRookie roll again with a few brand new ideas and some major motivation. The definition of a Rookie includes: “A beginner. A starter. Somebody that is just doing or trying something for the first time”. The Goob and I can still be considered ‘rookies’ in many ways. We are constantly trying to better ourselves, learn, adapt and improve. In our sport, people are brainstorming by the minute… ways to get quicker, developing new gadgets and craving information of what is winning. It is a constant road….the ‘learning curve’ and one I plan to stay on as long as I can. If I can help someone through RodeoRookie.com, that is my goal as well. I know a few 2016 WPRA Rookies who I am a personal fan of, and I’ve watched a few here lately who I think might have terrific stories. If you’ve met me, you know I love a good laugh, a great story, I root for the underdogs and the ‘nice guys’ and I am, above all, the biggest fan of a great horse who’ll give all they’ve got.
This year I’m excited to ‘follow’ a few rookies, introduce you to a professional trick rider, interview some fellow competitors on tricks of the trade, places to stay and any other questions I might come up with. As always, I’m open to suggestions on who you’d like to hear from and what you’d like to see! The web page is getting a ‘face lift’ and weekly the changes should keep you interested and hopefully, coming back!
Tonight I found this blog post that I had published July 30, 2013 on RodeoRookie.com…let’s call this Salvage Saturday and knock the dust off this article that was a good reminder for me today as I was bit shopping in Boerne, Texas!
It’s not your bridle….
Every barrel racer I know has a hundred bits hanging in their tack room or trailer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit hoarder myself but I think this addiction must be in a barrel racer’s handbook somewhere…
A couple of weeks ago I caught myself with three bridles in each hand, sizing up Porkie and trying to decide which would be the selected “tool” to fix our current problem. Let me set the stage for you.
It’s last Wednesday morning. I’ve been up early, watering and working the arena. I had decided to have someone run a video and was going to make a “real” run on Porkie to put on RodeoRookie.com and introduce him to everyone. I’ve been riding him since the end of March and the last 30 days have been putting a little wood on the fire and asking him to run. I asked him for his life at the first barrel and he dropped down and shot around it just like the Goob, sticking that inside leg up underneath my stirrup and giving you that feeling that just makes your heart soar. He roared across to the second, knew his spot and though he took a couple extra steps, made a pretty nice turn. It was at this point my heart sunk. I kicked a dull side. I pulled with no reaction. I jerked with zero effect. I had officially become a passenger on our way to the third barrel. It’s safe to say that barrel does not look quite the same after Porkie and I center punched it. The blue plastic was no match for the sorrel bulldozer that I was riding.
It was on my furious stomp to the tack room to find the bit that would change Porkie’s mind about who was in charge that a voice from the past stopped me dead in my tracks.
In my early twenties I was able to spend time with a family that I greatly admire, Gary and Wynette Dale and their daughter Amy Dale Coelho (Rodeo Houston Champion and NFR Qualifier). I had a horse I was trying to learn to go fast on and Amy and Wynette did their best to help me. I remember Amy saying to me one day ‘every time I see you, you have a different bridle on that horse.’ I replied with an explanation that included the following; drops his shoulder, pulls on the bit, doesn’t stop, he’s dull, etc. etc.’ Amy simply said “it’s not your bridle’.
It’s taken me years to really understand that statement. I’ve heard it a hundred times. Riders that are going to switch bridles and believe that will fix what is happening. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a bridle change can seriously help or change a situation. I’m talking specifically about the incident with Porkie and my own program. Many times on the Goob, I’d switched bridles, played with different ideas and always seemed to circle back around to my favorite two bits. Wynette and Amy were right. It’s not my bridle. It’s how I ride, the foundation I put on my horse and making sure that he has a clear understanding of what I’m actually asking him to do.
Watching the video I realized that I simply forced Porkie into his first speed jam. The chin to the chest barrel plow wouldn’t be fixed with a bridle change, it will be fixed with hours in the saddle, speeding up and slowing down. Working off my legs and bettering his ability to handle the speed that he will eventually have to deal with.
It’s funny how minutes, days and in my case years can go by and something brings you back to something or someone that truly had a powerful impact in your life. I rode with one of the coolest families I know 13 years ago and though I don’t ever get to see them, they are still helping me today.
Next time your horse drops his shoulder, tugs on the bridle or does something else you don’t like, ask yourself if you’re asking him the right way. Check your feet and then your hands. Amy didn’t need to tell me I was riding like a dipstick, she just told me something that helped me to figure it out.
Until next time,
Welcome to the first official posting of RodeoRookie.com! I would like to share something I wrote last July in a moment where things truly turned a corner for me. I’ll share quite a few experiences with you that motivated and encouraged me in some way. Throughout the year I hope some of these stories might do the same for you or at least entertain you.