The Highs and Lows of Rodeos

As ┬ámost of you know by now, my youngest son, Garris, is wrapping up his junior high rodeo career this summer. In a couple of weeks, he heads to Tennessee for his third National experience. Then, in a few months, he’ll be a freshman in high school and will start all over again at the bottom of the pecking order.

Over Memorial Day, Garris competed in his state rodeo. He had set lofty goals for himself: he wanted to win calf roping, goat tying, and the all around. Well, to be honest, he wanted to win all five of his events. But he knew that would be tough. He definitely wanted to qualify in all of his events.

He knew going into the weekend that he had to catch everything he chased. He had to have three good throws in the chute dogging. And he had to have three good goat runs. He was ready.

Garris led the boys all around standings most of the year. Up until about a month ago, no one was even close to him in points. Then another boy started entering two additional events that he normally didn’t compete in. And he caught up to Garris. And the boy was well within the rules; he did nothing inappropriate. Garris could have added three rough stock events, if he wanted to. But he’s not into those events. So, he knew going into state that he was competing against a kid who had one extra event on him.

The first event was ribbon roping. Garris missed his calf. The other boy didn’t. Then, Garris stepped up his level of competition. He didn’t panic. He didn’t throw a temper tantrum. He just did better on his next runs.

His first two goat ties were each under nine seconds. That’s faster than most of the girls in junior high tie, and he’s using a pigging string. He caught every calf in the tie down roping, his final run being a 10.7. That would have placed him in a high school rodeo. And his last two ribbon roping runs were quick and effective.

He didn’t have as good a luck in team roping. He couldn’t catch the horns to save his soul! And one of his steers in chute dogging was a rubber necked SOB. That’s the luck of the draw.

By the end of the weekend, he won the calf roping. He won the goat tying. And he and his partner took second in ribbon roping. (Yes, he’d like to have that first run back!) He ended up as the reserve all around boy for the state. Just a wee bit shy of his goal, but impressive. And he missed out qualifying in team roping and chute dogging by one place. In chute dogging, it was by ONE POINT. They take the top four, and he was fifth in each of those events.

The other boy had a fabulous weekend. Everything aligned just right for him: he had excellent draws in every event. And he took advantage of Garris’ mistakes.

When Garris was announced as the reserve all around, he walked up to get his prize with a smile on his face and a handshake for the National director. I think that’s what I admire most about this son of mine: he can have a bad day or a bad run and still be genuinely happy. That weekend did not turn out the way he had hoped, but he told me he was happy the other boy won the all around.

Even when he has a bad run in the arena, he picks himself up and regroups. We saw a rough stock kid throw a huge fit at state because he missed his horse out and got a no score, because of the mark out rule. He threw his helmet on the ground. He kicked the dirt. He was cussing. Honestly, he should have been eliminated from the rodeo and from the possibility of going to Nationals.

I’ve never seen Garris do that. And I’ve seen him take some wild wrecks in goat tying. I’ve seen him take some horrid shots in his roping events. I’ve seen him get dragged by a steer in chute dogging. Right. Through. The Mud. But I’ve never seen him throw a fit.

He may not have won the all around or achieved all those goals he set for himself at state, but he’s already a winner. I honestly believe that he’s the better competitor in the arena, because of his attitude. Most parents, and other kids, agree. He was elected the Cinch team boys captain for two years (his teammates vote for that.) And he was elected President of the state, without even realizing he was on the ballot.

He’s got some pretty lofty goals for Nationals now. He wants to win at least one event. And he has a legitimate shot in both tie down and goat tying. As long as he keeps his focus and concentrates on HIS runs, he’ll make Montana proud.

His mother already is.

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