Changing for the Better

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Throughout my career, it seems like I've always been at work analyzing what I need to work on and change in order to try and get better. Be it trying to be more consistent at a specific part of my roping, making things easier or trying to be faster, I have constantly evaluated and worked on every aspect of my roping. Since I decided that was what I was going to do, and decided I wanted to be the best I can be, it's been the same process of self-analysis, evaluation and identifying what I need to work on to get better. From the beginning, I've been one who felt like there was always something to improve upon.

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In knowing quite a few guys like me-who rope for a living and have chosen this for their life's work, career and how they put food on the table for their families-I've noticed that the majority of them are like me. They're always working at perfecting their skills, whether it's horsemanship, how to ride their horse better, how to get better position or just trying to stay sharp and being more consistent so they can maintain a high percentage of winning.

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What the average roper doesn't really realize is how much work, effort and sacrifice it takes to compete at a high level against the best in the world. It's tough competition, and it takes a lot of effort. You're always trying to get an edge. Whether it's riding better horses or having your horses work better, you try to gain an edge somewhere. You look for every possible place to improve in any aspect of the game, because a lot of times it comes down to just a small edge. In the long run, some of the little things are the difference between just barely making it and doing quite well.

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Over the past several years, there have been a lot of new faces coming onto the scene and into the NFR (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo). There are lots of young, talented ropers out there. Something that I respect is the fact that guys like Mike Beers, Allen Bach and Walt Woodard, whom I've seen and competed against for a long time, have kept their game sharp and have brought it up to the current level of competition. They're highly successful because of their work ethic, time spent to keep up with the times and a willingness to change and improve their style.

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We've been doing this a long time, and understand what it takes. There are quite a few components to it, starting with the desire to be among the best, in our case despite our age. Along with the age factor comes experience, and knowing how to deal with the highs and lows. We know how to handle pressure, because we've been in every situation. We're also appreciative of the fact that we've been able to do what we love to do. A lot of people are not fanatical about their job and don't enjoy it like we d

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When you have a competitive spirit about you and really enjoy competition, you realize that making a living competing is not to be taken for granted. Longevity and a solid track record brings its rewards also. It's hard for a young guy to get proven. You have to climb the ladder of success to be able to get the best partners. It takes two, and you have to be teamed up with a guy who can deliver in order to be successful.

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Your accountability, attitude, work ethic, willingness to share responsibilities and traits like being easy to get along with all play a part in getting the best possible partner. Not that any of us older guys has been perfect. But over time, you learn and you become a more stable individual in all aspects of your life. When it comes to getting a good partner, those things come into play. Ultimately, maturing, changing and constantly striving to improve in all aspects of the game brings success at any level, whether this is your living or your hobby.