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Cowboy Christmas

(PART 1) Home with family-Man getting to recharge for a couple days was exactly what I needed to start the 4th run. The ten days I was gone for rodeos and training camp was the longest I had ever been away from Steele and I was needing to see him and Alexis. I got to just relax until the morning of the 29th (the day we were supposed to leave) when the mechanic called about my RV. The blue def pump had went out in it, so I sent it to the shop and long story short there was several small things (mainly sensors) that needed to be fixed and the last part wasn’t going to be in for another week. I called Josh and we both decided that buying an older used RV was our best bet so we could still have a comfortable rig to go in over the 4th. Enter Majestic- a 2007 model that has been used heavily but maintained well. Alexis and I ran down and emptied my RV out (she had already packed it perfectly, beds made the whole shebang) and headed to pick up the new to me unit. We got it picked up about 4 hours after my original call to the dealership threw everything in and I was headed north. I stopped and picked up Junior in Bowie and our next stop was to grab Josh in Greeley after the short round. Junior had never driven an RV and was a little nervous, but he handled it all like a champ. Side note: Junior is a driving son of a gun, He jumped behind the wheel in Childress, TX and didn’t stop for anything besides gas till we got to Greeley. I told him several times “hey man if you get tired and need a break just let me know”. He obviously did not get tired, nor did he need a break.

The situation was stressful, but I tried to make light of it. I told Alexis “these are the stories you remember”. I could have let all of the chaos get to me, but that’s not me, I wanted to use it as fuel for the big week ahead. I turned to an attitude of gratitude. “How cool is it that I am financially able to do this?” “What a blessing that I found the Majestic and the dealership helped me get it in a matter of hours!” I think it is paramount to keep a good positive attitude no matter what the situation is and this was just another opportunity to practice that skill. I mean at the end of the day we had a rig to rodeo in, and a bunch of huge rodeos to ride at.

The drive up to Cody took a lot out of all of us. Josh has been all over the place going to Ponoka, Alberta and Prescott, AZ, so he was tired too. (Josh takes about 3 naps a day on the road whether he is tired or not). We had a nice drive up through Shoshone pass and pulled into Cody just in time for a pre game nap. Starting off the run in Cody for the Xbulls I had County Jail. A many time NFR bull, PBR finals bull and one of the guys favorites. We had just talked about how Josh or I neither one had ever been on him and I drew him at a big bull riding to start the 4th. He bucks hard in the chute, but he isn’t bad about it. He goes straight up and down so he never really hits your legs, but it does make it a process to get your rope set in the right spot and pulled correctly. It took some time to get everything right and it was worth it. I was 85 (way below his average score) but pulled a nice check to kick everything off on the right foot.

We got entered up great so I got to spend a day in Cody. I went golfing with the bullfighters and came back to rest and get ready for the night. I had drawn a young bull from Mo Betta that had been out at the night rodeo a couple of times already. I watched a couple of videos and he showed promise, but was definitely still a calf. He was decent (77 score) but I doubt it will hold up in Cody for a check. Cody is always one of the toughest rodeos over the fourth and one of the biggest payouts.

My elbow is getting sore along with my hips, but all in all everything is good. I try to prioritize recovery on the road as much as possible, but it is hard (especially this week). My mind is in a good place, despite a lot of “noise”-(things that I cant control). Alexis has been the great supportive wife she always is and overall I am happy right now.

Goals- My goal for this fourth run is to keep my attitude good (thankful) and my energy high. To give my best at every rodeo and make sure I am ready to compete to the best of my ability (mentally and physically).

Everyone wants to have the record setting 4th run and I do too, but I feel like a lot of us get way too caught up in this week. At the end of the day it is just a great paying week of rodeo. I’m trying to stay focused an determined for the rest of the week and capitalize on all of my opportunities. The best part of this week is the amount of patriotism and pride everyone has for this amazing country that we live in. Every time the anthem is sang before the rodeo a wave of emotions fill me up. “What a life” is all that can go through my conscious stream of thought. The greatest country in the world. God Bless America.

(PART 2) Traveling partners are vital to your success or downfall when you are out on the road. Being around champions that are driven, focused, dedicated raises the playing field for everyone in the rig. Josh and I have been going together for the last 3 years(not last year due to the shoulder). We push each other to be tough men, and be the best we can be. Our rig has a great culture and is one of the reasons that we enjoy the success that we do. I have always tried to find traveling partners that are great at what I need to be better at. I feel like it keeps my life more balanced and helps me grow. I was nervous about traveling with Junior because I didn’t really know him before we jumped in together. Sure I had talked to him at the rodeos and he was always very nice, but that is very different than living with someone for an extended period of time while trying to succeed at one of the hardest sports on planet earth. He has been AMAZING! He is one of the most genuine, kind people I have ever been around. I have loved learning about his upbringing in Brazil (I’m sure I will share more throughout the year). He literally helps with everything and is so selfless. The three of us have been getting along great and I am having a great time so far.

Getting into the second half of the 4th run I am a little sore but holding up well. Heck everyone is a little sore at this point so I would say I’m excelling in the health department. Mentally I am missing my family really bad. FaceTimes with AK and Steele have been getting me by, but I can’t wait to give them both a big hug and kiss. When competing I am feeling dialed in, everything is working how it should and I am riding strong. Most of the bulls I have drawn have been young, but good. I switched my rowels to the PBR approved set so that I could get used to them before Cheyenne, and if anything I think they are helping my riding(big surprise for me). I am very strong with my feet usually and with a normal set of rowels I can depend on my spurs more than I should instead of riding the bull correctly. The PBR rowels don’t get a very good hold, but it makes me stay more aggressive and keep moving.

Livingston- I had a really nice little 4 year old in Livingston that I had seen several videos of. When I watch videos I like to visualize how the bull is going to feel when he is bucking. This bull usually went down the gate out of a left hand delivery and then spun to the right. That’s exactly what he did and everything would have been smooth sailing, but my rope pulled across his back so I didn’t have a solid anchor to lift on. This takes away everything but your balance to stay in the middle. I got him rode (even though it was a struggle) for 86 points. This was one of those rides that nothing felt great from word go, but I just kept hustling and trying hard and it paid off.

Oakley- I have been wanting to start riding with a new rope for a week or so now, but I hadn’t had a good opportunity to crack it out. A new rope is hard to get sticky and is more stiff than one that has been on a few bulls, so it is really easy to roll your hand out of it. Tonight was the night to bust it out. I had a young bull of Danny Reagans in Oakley. Danny told me that he was really bad in the chute, but he was really good once you got out on him. This thing sure enough BUCKED in the chute. Danny tied him in and kept him from being dangerous in there. Trey Benton gave me a great spot to help me weather the storm and I got out of the chute clean. The ride started a little slow, but when this young bull got wound up we started making rounds, a lot of them. I only remember getting on a couple of bulls in my whole career that made that many revolutions in 8 seconds. I was 90 points on him. The new rope felt great and I am so happy I switched. Riding with a worn out old rope doesn’t feel good and I feel like it is a vital piece of equipment. Josh got knocked out for the second time in a little over a week, but like always the rodeo community came together to help all of us out. (As a group we decided that even though Josh loves his naps, the arena is not the place for them). We got Josh settled in and caught a ride to the airport to fly to Basin City and St. Paul. Derek Kolbaba picked us up and we got to the arena right after the performance started. It was pretty warm outside for the afternoon performance so I tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. Riding two in one day especially when travel is a little hectic really takes it out of me, so everything was about conserving energy. All the girls (Alexis, Katherine, Kayla) brought the kiddos down so I got to see Mr. Steele and my wife before I got on. It filled my heart and answered the most important question… WHY??? Why was I out here putting my body and mind through this? Very simple, I love my family and I want to provide for them. I want to show Steele what it means to work hard and to chase your dreams. I want to be a good godly man and lead our household to the best of my ability. I want to inspire people and to glorify god with the talents he bestowed upon me. I really believe that I was put on this earth to ride bulls and be a light in this industry. It gets hard and I fall short often (I am human), but when I saw my wife and son, all of this hit me all over again. GAME TIME…

I have two great draws today to end the fourth run. My family is waiting on me to get back to them and I have a few rounds off golf lined up for the days off. Mike Corey, affectionately known as “Uncle Mike”, to a lot of the guys had all the bulls in Basin City. It was my first time there because the committee steps up and added a lot more money. This year it became one of the biggest payouts over Cowboy Christmas. Mike is known for his big “old school eliminators”, but his pen has evolved over the last few years and he’s got just a nice set of rodeo bulls now. It was almost 100 degrees and the heat really took it out of the bulls. My bull was good on paper, but had an off day and I was 72 points. I did my job though like I was supposed to then it was onto the next.

I went and packed all of my stuff in the girls car, kissed Alexis and Steele good bye for now and headed to the runway. We got to fly in an awesome little plane, a Cirrus. We were able to get a private flight from Basin City to St. Paul to make travel easier on us. Junior was nervous about it because he had never been in a small private plane. We kind of threw Junior in and it was trial by fire. He handled it like a champ. He even mentioned once “one week ago I was scared to drive the RV, now I’m flying in a little plane. This is crazy.” Our pilot was awesome, a family man from there in Basin that works in the agriculture industry. We had some really good conversations and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together. It was a good smooth flight and we got to St. Paul an hour before the performance even started.

F2 Hostile of Julio Moreno’s is what I drew in St. Paul to end the fourth run. This rodeo, like Cody, is always one of the toughest over the 4th mainly because the large payout all of the top cowboys are there. In St. Paul we are the 3rd event so guys can try to make it to Molalla that same night. It adds variables that we as bull riders aren’t used to. It is much hotter than usual because the sun is still up, and we need to be ready at the start of the rodeo. I was really tired getting ready there, but that’s the 4th run. We signed up for 6 rodeos in 5 days, of course you are going to be tired. I had asked about my bull and Julio and his partner on him seemed very excited about the young bulls potential. He was everything I could have asked for. Two big jumps and around the left, away from my hand. We started right beside the chute and faded all the way out towards J.J. Harrison’s barrel. I felt like it was the best bull ride I have made away from my hand since bruiser in 2019. Hostile bucked hard and I was in time with him jump for jump. What a way to end the 4th with a 90 point ride and a second place finish.

What a time we had over the 4th. I had a few dream draws (Hostile in St. Paul, County Jail in Codys Xbulls) and a bunch of young bulls with promise (some were good, some were disappointing), but I stayed on every single one of them. I’ve had good Cowboy Christmas runs in the past that I had won a lot during, but I had never ridden all of my bulls. This year I accomplished that goal. 85, 77, 86, 90, 72, 90 were my scores over the past 5 days. Nothing crazy, just consistent.There are a ton of guys that are good bull riders. It is consistency that sets the top guys apart from the field. Showing up and doing your job day in and day out when you are tired, sore, beat up, and wondering why you ever wanted to be a bull rider in the first place is the hard part. It is also when you have the chance to acquire the sweetest fruit. I am happy with the way I performed and even more happy to be with my family for the next two weeks.

Takeaways- There is always a ton of distractions in whatever you are doing. The “winners” are who can lock in. Who can lock in amidst chaos? Usually it is in the high stakes moments that the chaos is at its peak. Every time when I’m helping one of my buddies on a bull I say “whatever it takes” that means more than just hold on for dear life. Whatever mental space you need to get in, whatever physical state you have to get your body in, whatever you need to do to go get the job done, DO THAT. It becomes a mental chess game more than anything, can you focus on the task at hand and go accomplish what you set out to accomplish? That is the question, do you have what it takes to make the answer yes? Not once, not twice, but over and over and over again. I am starting to realize why Trevor Brazile’s brand is “Be Relentless”. You have to be in this world to accomplish great feats. You have to be laser focused, capitalizing on every opportunity that is set before you. Another week on the road down, another step closer to my goals for this year. Keep on the road to Become Legendary!


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