Wednesday, January 13, 2010

NFR Finals - The Wrap Up - Leo Camarillo's Point of View

As usual, the team I expected to be savvy proved me wrong. In the final round, Chad Masters had a chance at the one steer I’d been waiting all week for them to cut out. The steer literally walked out of the chute every round, and why they kept the oddball in the herd is beyond me. Nevertheless, Chad drew him in the final round and he was riding Hanson. When referring to Hanson, the first words out of anybody’s mouth are, “HE’LL DUCK.” Hanson, in his day, was the epitome of a head horse, and he still is a great horse, but he’s notorious for ducking. He’s now on the last steers of his life, ready to retire and is what he is. Due to his age and experience he’s good for one round—only! He’ll give a guy the first round, but peg him the second. He’s experienced and quick to figure a guy out.

Last year, Hanson’s owner (World’s Champion Matt Sherwood) understanding this fact, got on Hanson to win one round and then got off him. This year Chad got his run on Hanson in the 9th round. In the tenth, when Chad lifted up and went to swinging his rope in the box (ready to pounce on a world record), Hanson read the play. Understanding the call to cheat (Chad going off in the box) he anticipated the stick and figured to cut left as soon as they left the box. This wasn’t Hanson’s first rodeo NFR. He knew when and where he needed to go. He’s been blueprinted, and he took the route. Unfortunately, instead of heading for the steer, he headed for the hot dog stand.

Them old veteran horses are smarter than most ropers. On a horse like Hanson, a guy can’t advertise his intentions and quit riding because the horse knows exactly what’s up and what should go down—before his rider does. I’m sure Chad knew that steer wasn’t going anywhere. I assume Chad was focused on the drop of that neck rope and Masters-fully stick’n a new record. Hence, he committed to his rope and quit riding his horse. (Que lastima) His reflexive-communication with Hanson (correcting his duck) came long after his shot was gone.

Pulling for Chad, my beef was why they kept that eight-ball in the herd in the first place. But that’s rodeo. Like rolling the dice, you get what you get and that’s what you work with. Prove how high you can cowboy-up and be flexible. Power swings and box-shots seem the trend these days and are beneficial when you draw a dart, but when you’ve got a “walker” and you absolutely know it’s not going to out run you, contain your urge to keep pace with the pack. No sense in swinging (for power) when a steer is stopping. Slow steers can be just as tricky as quick steers especially when they’ve been tried a few rounds. You’ve got to regroup, be patient and let him out before you knock him off. Dribbling your ball up and laying your shot in is perfectly acceptable.

Team Roping is (has always been and will always be) about catching, and no matter what the situation—slow steer, fast steer, any kind of steer, the one thing you always do is ride. RIDE YOUR HORSE! ALWAYS!

With the new NFR requirements for catching I say it’s time to open up that tight, little Thomas and Mac. They’ve got it set like a mouse trap (a quick, short score; smaller cattle), so the cattle have no real chance of their own. Winning or losing is predominantly up to weather the cowboys beat themselves. Since today’s competitors are full-time specialists, it’s time to do-away with two loops, second jumps, and all the running around. Put a little bit more animal back into it (bigger calves, bigger steers, fresh bull dogging steers, etc.), stretch that score out there, and bring on some real cowboy-challenge. Speed takes on a whole new significance when things aren’t set up to be fast.

That’s all I know… Rope Smart! The Lion

Monday, January 11, 2010


Implementing one loop only (per man) this year triggered no hesitancy in 2009’s finalists. Teams drew their swords like always—including Nick Sartain who impressively fought like a soldier. Nick was sharp and confident. I could see him entertaining the idea of day-money in each run, yet he held his composure enough to stay in the average. Nick was slick.

By the fourth round, more than half the teams (10 out of 15) had fallen. By the end of the fifth, only 3 teams were standing. At that point, a competitor decides weather to make business runs or gamble his shots. When you’re out of the average, sure, have fun with it, but when you’re one of 3 teams left; Average payouts are at least 2 ½ times over day money; all you have to do is catch (barriers and legs are valid) to take at least third in the average. HELLO?

Average-roping is business-roping and in most cases (like 10 head) the basic job is catching, that’s all you have to do. Nobody can tell me those top three teams can’t catch 5 steers. Put any of them teams in the practice pen on 500 head of horns, and they’ll hammer out solid 4s every run (2 horns + 2 feet = 4 seconds, solid). You’ll see machine-style, brilliant roping all day long, yet when the flag’s up the complexion changes. Speed-fevers spike and suddenly it’s no longer about catching but all about speed. This year (NFR 2009), with ropes ablaze, the need-to-be-three virus plagued 14 of the 15 teams.

The fifth round was the wall for a few. About then, I noticed Luke’s (Brown) swing weakening. He kept wanting to throw, but his horse was billy-goat’n and wouldn’t get up there for Luke to take an authoritative shot. Because Luke was not getting a solid start, his horse was short. Instead of sitting down and riding up there to get in position Luke would raise up to swing. (A simple over-under behind will turbo-boost your horse out of a missed start to get you a better shot). Anticipating Luke’s throw, his horse would quit running leaving Luke way out of position. Thus, Luke’s swing grew more and more hesitant, until finally, in the tenth round, it caught up with him.

Team roping is about catching. And your rope is only part of it. Catching is a combination of riding your horse and working your rope. You swing for power. You ride for accuracy. Riding your horse is like dribbling the ball for a shot. Once you stop dribbling, your shot is at the mercy of your position. When you rise up to swing, instead of staying down and riding, your horse anticipates what’s coming (your throw) and usually quits running. It’s very important to get your horse up there, when you know you HAVE to catch. That extra step or two (from your horse) in front can shave an extra second or two behind (for your heeler). It can also be the difference between “time” and “no time.”

Though today’s ropers are phenomenal shooters, they limit themselves to high percentage shots. When catching matters, a guy needs to think outside the box (literally) and set things up in a run. (A) Consider your obstacles and aim to keep your play in the fairway. (B) Get in position and take a commanding shot. (C) It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. A glory-headshot is only glorious when your heeler can slam the door.

Stay tuned for Part Two of “The B3 Virus”
Rope Smart!

The Lion