Nothing is more piercing than the stare of a lion. And those that have stared back at roping great, Leo "The Lion" Camarillo understand the power of that stare. The piercing stare from a real African Lion comes from his confidence in knowing he is the king of the jungle (or Serengeti) and has the skill, polished by endless hours of practice, and the "attitude" to win. That same confidence in the animal, can be achieved in the human if certain principals are applied. First, stay focused. Ever seen a lion in pursuit of a gazelle pull up and start looking at the birds flying by? Second, expect the results you want. I'm convinced the lion sees the kill in its mind even at the start of the hunt. Third, practice. Its starts with the lioness and her cubs, and everyday that lion refines its skill. Fourth, be consistent. Lions observed in the wild will typically start a pursuit based upon their knowledge of the prey, terrain and their own health. Essentially making choices and compromises based upon conditions present. Your roping should be the same way. Stay focused, expect to catch (see it mentally every time), practice relentlessly, and be consistent. Understand the difference between cocky and confident. Use that mental edge to your advantage. The Camarillos share stories of yesteryear when Leo, Jerold and Reg would pull into a roping and other ropers would start loading horses to go home. In some cases the contractor would ask them not to come. "you're killing me! every time you boys show up, half of these guys want to leave." Because the Camarillos got lucky and won a few ropings? No, consistency, focus, and practice yielded many, many, many wins. If contractors and promotors aren't asking you to load up and go home (because you are winning so much) then maybe its time to "learn from the lion". Use the same principals a lion uses to hunt. If you aren't roping with the focus and consistency you want, then get some more expert help when you practice. Don't just go to the practice pen, doing the same thing over and over expecting better results. Go talk to Leo or Jerold about a spring tune-up lesson so that your summer season is more enjoyable. It's fun to go rope, but putting a few bucks in your pocket each time makes it a bit more so. When you get up tomorrow and you're brushing your teeth in the mirror, take a good hard look at yourself. Do you have lion eyes or lyin' eyes? (guest author)
Every year, California High School Rodeo Association (CHSRA) sponsors a Challenge of Champions rodeo. This invitational style rodeo selects the top three contestants from each event, from each of the nine districts. These top cowboys and cowgirls then compete in a single go event split over the weekend, and the top ten come back in a short-go Sunday performance. This year Jerold Camarillo was present to watch not one but numerous youth champions compete that he had coached over the years. From Farquer to Valente, Santos-Karney to Hirdes, and the list goes on and on. "It was like siting next to the mayor of a small town", Byron (contestant Farquer's dad) said when describing how many people Jerold commented on. "He seems to either know everyone, coached their kids, or tuned up their rope horse at one time or another". he added. When Case Hirdes (a District 5 top ranked tie-down and team roper) had a horse pull up lame in Clovis, Jerold was able to get him mounted on a really good calf/heel horse in time for the Challenge of Champions. "I knew what horse would fit him and sent him up with another family so Case would be competitive, not just mounted" said Jerold. Editor's Note: Case Hirdes and his partner placed in the top 10 in team roping, and came back to compete in the short go on Sunday. As fellow rodeo contestants and fans watch various performances throughout the year you are likely to see a cowboy or cowgirl, youth or adult, that Camarillo's have either coached or riding a horse that they have tuned up at some point. Congratulations to all of those CHSRA cowboys and cowgirls that made it to the 2010 Challenge of Champions rodeo. Some of the kids expressed a big thankyou to the Camarillos who continue to show this sport that winners do more than just win, they help others do the same.