Parenting in Pieces

One of the hardest things I’ve had to adjust to over the past few years is co-parenting through divorce. Our divorce process took over two years to finalize, during which time we were forced to live in the same house. Once the divorce was final, and we each began our new lives, I looked forward to re-starting my life again.

Then reality set in. I had this idyllic vision that we would work together for the good of our sons. That we would be able to talk and plan and be parents together, even though we were no longer a couple. Things haven’t worked that way.

It’s been a struggle to maintain continuity for my youngest son, who turned 15 a few days ago. We set up a parenting plan, so that we trade weeks. He lives with me one week, his dad the next. It works out well, most of the time. And when needed, we adjust the schedule.

When my boys were little, I did ninety percent of the parenting. He was always at work or working in his shop. I stayed at home to be ‘mom’ and am still very thankful that I did. I made sure that my boys had plenty of play time during each day, plenty of chores, and a good moral foundation.

Fast forward to today. There are now different rules between the houses. I’m big on respect, especially my son’s toward me. That was lacking during our marriage, and I insist on each of my sons showing me a healthy dose of respect. Not only because I’m their mother but because mutual respect is necessary for a decent person.

There is always a period of adjustment when my son returns to my house from his dad’s. A period when he has to get used to my set of rules. Sometimes he needs a reminder of whose house he is living at.

We don’t always agree on which rules need to be enforced, and how strictly they need to be. For example, to make the beds or to not make the beds. I’ve never cared whether or not my sons made their beds in the mornings. Frankly, I think it’s healthier to leave the bedding open and let it air out. I never made my bed as a kid, and I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal to made a bed tight and crisp.

He, on the other hand, was always a stickler about beds. He thought their beds should be made every morning and spent plenty of hours yelling at the boys because they didn’t do that. Which is ironic, since he never made his bed as a kid. His mom normally made it, so that he wouldn’t get in trouble with his dad. So, I’m not sure when a made bed became so important to him.

Another rule in my house is that my son cleans his own bathroom. I started having the boys clean their bathroom when they were about twelve years old. It seemed only fair. If they missed the toilet, then they could clean up the sticky, nasty pee on the floor and the toilet bowl. It was amazing how quickly their aim got better.

In my house, my son has a bathroom that is basically his. Every week, he’s expected to clean the toilet, the sink, and the floor. It may take him five minutes, tops, to accomplish this task. But it’s expected. And if he doesn’t do it, there are consequences. Like I keep his ipod for the week he’s at his dad’s house.

I don’t know what rules he has at his dad’s house. And I don’t want or need to know. All I really care about is that he respects the rules I have in my house. Sometimes, he tries to tell me that I should do things the way his dad does them. Then I remind him that when he’s at my house, my rules are in force. Period.

It’s hard to co-parent well when you feel like you’re still battling with your ex. I do my best to leave my son out of the tug of war. But sometimes that the casualty of divorce.

Add on top of that the pressures of rodeo competition. I feel like I’m parenting in pieces. I get pieces of my son’s time. I get pieces of his days. I get pieces of his activities. But I also miss pieces of his time, and days, and activities. And most days, those pieces don’t add up to a whole of anything.

But I’ll continue to parent as best I can and be the best rodeo mom I can be. My son deserves my best effort, even if I can only achieve pieces.

Bittersweet Goodbye

My youngest son Garris is in Tennessee right now, competing at the National Junior High Rodeo. He qualified in three events: calf roping, ribbon roping, and goat tying.

He had big goals going into this rodeo. He wanted to at least place in one event. Actually, he wanted to win an event, most likely the goats. He has been the one to beat in Montana for two years in that event.

The first round of events has not been kind to him. He was in the first performance of calf roping, so he got a fresh calf. He caught quick, had a good get-off, but the calf ran and jumped and made it difficult to flank. Once he had the calf down, he tied well and quickly. But he was long on his time, just outside the top twenty.

He missed his first ribbon roping calf. His hat popped off and deflected his loop as he threw.

The goat run was a disaster. He tied two eights at the state rodeo, and normally ties below ten seconds. As he got off, the goat ran toward his horse, making it difficult to push the goat to a good spot for the flanking. Long story short, he had a 15. It will be tough for him to make the short go with that time, unless he has a stellar second run this morning. And he needs a few of the other boys to make some mistakes.

I will admit, I was very frustrated when I watched that goat run. He had a legitimate shot to win the whole thing. He has the fastest hands of any boy his age. It felt like all the time, money, and energy that we’ve spent over the last three years just blew up.

I know he didn’t make a bad run on purpose. I know he’s disappointed as well. He drew a crappy goat. But he didn’t handle that crappy goat as well as he could have.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens from this point, see how the points and times shake out. And accept whatever the results end up being.

This is the stage of a rodeo that is hardest on us moms. We can’t do anything to help the kids during their runs. We have to watch them make their run. We have to wait for every performance to be over. And then we have to be positive and supportive, even during those times we really don’t feel like it.

Next Year . . .

My son Cyris spent this past week competing at the CNFR in Casper. It was his first time, as a sophomore. He was excited and ready to rope!

He was up Monday morning slack, and his first run started out with a quick catch, a great get off, and a super start to his experience. Then, the calf started running toward him instead of running the other direction. There was too much slack in the rope, and his horse wasn’t helping him. He finally got the calf flanked and had a fast, effective tie. He was 14 flat. Longer than he wanted, but he knew if he had two solid runs in rounds two and three, he could still make the short round.

The next morning was his second round. Again, he caught quickly, just out of the chute. He got off, ran down the rope, and was set up for redemption from his first run. About halfway to the calf, the rope bounced off the neck, and the calf scampered away. So did Cy’s chances of making the short go. With that no time, he knew he would be done by the third round. It was a long ride out of the arena for him that morning.

Wednesday night was his third and final calf. He was the last man out for that performance. He caught quickly, got off effectively, and made it to the calf without any speed bumps. He flanked well. Then he missed his string, which took some extra time. Then, he tried to make up time on his tie, which bunched up his pigging string. He was under thirteen seconds. But he was out of the placings.

My heart hurt for Cy that night. He struggled all year to rope well, and qualifying for the CNFR was a huge boost to the end of his college season. His goal for that rodeo was to put down three good runs and see how he stacked up against the best in the country. That’s what I wanted for him, too.

I know it’s not the end of the world. I know he’ll be back next year. I know there is always another rodeo. But that doesn’t lessen the pain right now.

Thursday morning, Cy told me that he would like to have his runs back. For a do-over. If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it for him and give him the opportunity to show off his real roping skills.

As his mom, I want to fix this for him. And I know I can’t.

The fact that he is one of the top 46 college calf ropers in the nation has escaped his thoughts. He earned his spot. And next year will be a better year.

Right now, I am encouraging him to just go rope this summer. Enter NRA rodeos. Enter calf roping jackpots. Team roping jackpots. Anything he can do to compete. Anything to raise his confidence back up.

When he starts his junior year next fall, I want him to be roping tough, so that he can be in the standings from the first rodeo.

Next year. Next year at the CNFR, he will be back. And he will be strong. A mother knows.

The Highs and Lows of Rodeos

As  most 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.

Junior High Goodbye

This weekend is Garris’ state rodeo in Townsend. This is the final weekend of junior high rodeos for the year. And for Garris, this will be his final weekend of junior high rodeos at the state level. His performance, and everyone else’s, will determine who goes to the National rodeo in Tennessee in a couple of weeks.

For me, this is a bittersweet weekend. I’m proud of everything he has accomplished so far in his rodeo ‘career’. Up until about three weeks ago, he led the boys all around. Now, he’s sitting second, which may be a better place for him to be going into this weekend. He has been the kid to beat in goat tying, calf roping, and chute dogging all year. That’s not to say he always wins or always has the best run, but if the other boys want to win, they have to do better than Garris. Usually. And he’s strong in the team roping and ribbon roping, but there are a lot of teams in that position.

As I’ve said in past posts, he is an incredible goat tier, and I’m going to miss watching his runs, crashes and all. He’s only got three runs (probably) this weekend. And possibly three at Nationals, if he qualifies and he has good runs. Then he’s done.

But I’m ahead of myself. Like I told Garris several times this week, he needs to focus on the run he’s in and make it good. Then he can move on to the next one. He’s prepared. And excited. And maybe a touch nervous. And that’s okay. He knows what’s on the line. My biggest hope is that he has a good, strong rodeo.

All he can do is give his best and see where everybody else ends up. After all, in the big scheme of things, this is one weekend and one rodeo. Yes, there are implications for both good and bad runs. But the next two days are not going to change the course of the world, either way.

I’m already nervous. I have been all week. And I’ve told myself it’s silly. Being nervous for him is not going to change how things shake out. But I’ve always told my boys to let me be nervous for them. I don’t mind my hands shaking. Or my heart beating. If it helps them to relax, I’ll take it on. (Isn’t that what we rodeos moms do?)

Garris left yesterday with his dad. I’ll be leaving shortly. It’s a beautiful morning. He has practiced, not just this week, but all year. He knows what he needs to do. By the end of today, we’ll know if he makes the short go tomorrow in any of his events.

I’d better head that way. Of course, he forgot the horse’s protective boots when he left yesterday. So, I’ll take them to him.

But first I think I’ll go throw up and see if I can calm my nervous stomach!

Have a great Memorial weekend and be safe.

Ebay, Oy Vey!

Anyone else either bought or sold items on ebay? Oy Vey!

This past week, I’ve listed a bunch of clothes, thinking that might be an easy way to de-clutter some of my storage. It’s a long story – but I have almost 20 plastic storage boxes full of mostly brand new clothes, never worn, still with tags attached.

I decided that since I’ve been in my new house for about two and a half years, it was time to go through all of those boxes and plastic tubs that I’ve hauled around for the last five years. I was shocked at how much I had accumulated.

My divorce process dragged out for over two years. And in that time, I had to keep my personal possessions in storage. I was still living with my ex, because I had no means to move out until we settled. It was easier for me to store all of my clothes, etc, away from the house.

Every time I thought we were getting close to signing papers, I’d box up what I had and take to storage. Then, the process would halt and creep along for another few months. It was not an easy time for me. I had no space of my own. It was awkward and uncomfortable to be living with someone I was detangling my life from.

I was working at the bank, and I needed a certain type of wardrobe every day. When I saw something on sale, I’d buy it. A lot of the time, it was off season, so I stuck it away for a later time. And promptly forgot about. I ended up storing away a lot of clothes that I never wore. Never even took the tags off of.

And now, I’m working at home, and I don’t need the professional wardrobe that I have stored away.

Which brings me back to ebay.

I figured this might be a simple way to sell some of the clothes I had inadvertently hoarded away. I wasn’t looking to recoup all of my money. But I figured if I could get maybe a quarter of what I had spent, I’d be happy.

Now, I’m a thrifty shopper. I rarely pay full price for anything that I wear. I shop off-season. I shop clearance. And I feel good about my purchases.

When I was listing clothes on ebay, I kept that in mind. I knew I hadn’t spent the amounts on the tags. But I wanted to try and get 25% of the retail price. So, I listed tops, skirts, dresses, pants, boots, shoes. You name it, I probably had it listed during this past week.

I knew some of my prices were probably a little high, but I wanted to see how the process worked.

I have to say, I’m surprised that some of the items did not sell. Today was the end of the selling period on the first bunch of clothes I listed. Several didn’t sell. The prices I had on them were very reasonable. One dress retailed for over $200 – and no, I didn’t pay that for it. I listed it for $35. Which is about 16% of retail. Not one bid.

I had tops listed for $5. No bids.

The recommendation from ebay was to relist those items for significantly less money, in order to sell them quickly! I don’t plan to relist.

There are some clothes that I am not going to wear, for a multitude of reasons. Some are the wrong color. Some are the wrong fit for my body type. Some didn’t look like they did when I ordered them online. Those clothes, I already listed for a fraction of what they’re worth. Probably less than what I paid for them. But I just wanted those pieces out of my closets.

Other items are dresses or tops that I haven’t worn yet. But I like them. They would look good on me. They’re the right style and color. So, if I can’t get 25% of retail on those pieces, they’ll go back to my closet.

I’m not going to basically give away quality clothing on an auction site, and then have to get that clothing in the mail to people. If I’m going to do that, I may as well just donate it locally.

And keep in mind, we’re talking about brand names like Vince Camuto, Anne Klein, Liz Claiborne. This isn’t WalMart-quality clothing. I have a lot of top name clothes that still have tags on. I’ve never even tried on, let alone worn.

I have had a couple of people send me messages, saying that my price is too high on a certain dress. They offered me less than half of what I listed it for.

And believe me, I look for bargains as much as anybody else. I love to get in on a huge sale. Makes me feel like I’ve saving a ton of money. But I also know that quality clothes are worth more money than cheaply made things. And I wonder if those same people would be as generous to list their items for pennies on the dollar.

I still have lots of tubs of clothing. And I still have items for sale on ebay. I’ll wait and see what happens with the next group. If my things continue to go without bids, I’ll probably forego ebay and figure out something else.

I even listed a saddle on there. It’s one that I bought about a year ago. I paid a lot of money for it, and I love it. It’s comfy. It rides nice. But I’ve only ridden about twelve times since I got it. Right now, I could use the money more than the saddle. I listed it for about 20% off of what I paid. The saddle looks brand new. Ebay’s suggestion was to list it for $20. I ignored that.

I know those price suggestions are automatically generated. And I don’t take any of that personally. But I do find it funny how many people go on that site, expecting to get brand name, brand new merchandise for next to nothing. Or, they don’t want to pay shipping. If I offered free shipping, I’d have to bump the price of everything listed in order to cover shipping costs and the fees that ebay charges.

I think ebay is a great site, and I think a person can find some great deals on it. I don’t begrudge anyone selling the opportunity to make a few dollars on what they’re offering. If I want free shipping, I’ll order from a large company that can absorb that cost (in actuality, they pass that cost along to their customers).

So, if anyone out there is looking for some quality women’s clothing, shoot me a message. I’ve got every season, just about any style, and in various sizes. I’ll bet you I can find something you like. Or, if you want to check out my offerings online, let me know. I’ll hook you up with my seller identity. Just be kind with your comments (and maybe bid on one or two items for me.)

 

Facebook Freebies

I get amused at some of the posts on Facebook classified ads. I am part of about four of those groups from surrounding communities. Every day I see someone asking about hours of operation for a business. Or if anyone’s hiring. Or if someone can work on their car.

Seriously? Have these people gotten so dependent on social media that they can’t pick up the phone and call those businesses (or check their websites)? Or fill out job applications? Or make an appointment with a mechanic?

Probably the part that amazes me most is how those posting ISO ads are begging for freebies. There’s always a sad story – out of work, single mom, just had a bunch of bills. I can’t pay anything but I want something really nice.

Then comes the list of criteria. I’ve seen several about ISO horses. They have a list of incredible ‘musts’ for these horses. They want a completely broke horse, no older than ten, fifteen hands, buckskin with flaxen mane, pedigree to one of the top roping sires of all time. No quirks. Must be a push button, anybody-can-ride horse. But their budget is $3000.

I’d love to call those people up and ask them just what they ride currently. Because they aren’t going to find those horses for that kind of money.

I really don’t care about their hardships. We all have them. I don’t care if their best horse just died of colic. I don’t care if they’re looking to replace a horse they rode since they were three. They are unrealistic and rude to expect that kind of a horse for nothing.

I rarely sell horses. Once I have them, they are usually with me for life. But occasionally, I will sell one. Currently, I have a mare for sale because we just aren’t using her. She needs a home with girls that will run her on barrels and poles and make her into an all-around horse. She’s definitely worth more than $3000.

I know what she’s worth. Even if she goes to a good home, whoever buys her is still going to pay me what she’s worth. If they can’t, then they need to lower their standards. Why should I sell my best horses for a fraction of what they’re worth?

Short answer is, I shouldn’t. And neither should anyone else who sells quality horses.

If you can’t afford the horse you want, then maybe you shouldn’t be trying to compete in the discipline you’re competing in. Maybe that seems harsh, but it’s reality. Horses are expensive. Broke horses are even more expensive. Competitive horses are beyond expensive. That’s just how things are. If what you can afford is $3000, then you’re going to get a $3000 horse. Don’t expect more than that.

You’re going to get a horse that is started but not finished. You’re going to get either a very young or very old horse. You’re going to get a horse that has quirks and habits that you will have to either deal with or solve. You’re going to deal with some blemishes and warts in that price range.

A buyer can’t expect a seller to part with a highly trained horse for pennies of what it’s worth. Would the buyer do the same with their own horse if the situation was reversed? I doubt it.

Are some of those horses for sale overpriced? Sure. In fact, I have a deliberately high price on my mare, simply to make sure I find the most serious buyers. But most of the good ones are going to bring big money for their sellers. And most sellers, myself included, will consider reasonable offers. But the key there is reasonable.

Someone offered me less than half of my asking price for my mare. Because it was for her daughter. And her daughter really wanted a better horse.

And that matters to me why? I didn’t even respond to her.

I’ve had people ask me if I’d consider trades for other horses. Um, no.

I’ve even had people criticize me for putting such a price on her. Of course, those people aren’t horse people and think all animals should be ‘free’ to roam the earth without constraints.

Social media is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with a lot of people at one time. It can be a blessing. But based on what I see in these classified groups, the dependence on social media is making this generation of teens and tweens (and older) lazier and dumber in terms of common sense. They think every answer is online. Or that someone owes them something. Or if they beg, they’ll find a screaming deal on just about anything, including an awesome new horse.

Let’s hope common sense re-emerges soon. Or at least some horse sense.

Patience – the Virtue of Rodeo Moms Everywhere

Written April 29, 2017

 

I’m sitting in my pickup at the Three Forks rodeo grounds. Just waiting for another rodeo to get started. Like most weekends during the spring and summer, a lot of my time is spent waiting.

Waiting for the rodeo to start. Waiting for my son’s events to start. Waiting for the weather to either warm up or cool down.

Not that I mind waiting.

Being a rodeo mom has taught me patience. It has taught me to always bring my laptop or a good book along. It has taught me that there is always another rodeo next week.

As I sit here, the sky is cerulean blue, with big fluffy clouds poking their way along. Just a slight breeze. But those clouds are fluffy for a reason. They either have rain or snow hiding in them. Or both.

One thing about this sport is that weather rarely determines the schedule. Unless there is lightning popping, the rodeo continues. Just a week ago, in Butte, kids were tying goats in wet snow, with the temperature hanging around 35.

But I love this sport and what it offers. I love living in Montana. I love that I have this opportunity to accompany my son to his rodeos. I get to be a spectator to one of the last vestiges of the Old West.

Most of the junior high rodeos start with either barrel racing or pole bending. And they end with the other. Because I don’t have any girls, we always have to wait for one of the longest events to get done before we’re even close to my son’s events.

And there are only so many barrel or poles run a person can watch when they don’t have a kiddo competing.

There are drawbacks to the sport, like any other. A big one is the amount of time spent waiting for something to happen. Another is the cost.

But the positives far outweigh any negatives. I do get a lot of work done during the down time. I watch my son forge friendships with other kids that he wouldn’t be able to in other sports.

There is time for socializing around his events. He has made lifetime friends by pursuing this sport. He competes against kids from all over the state. Unlike other sports, which compete within districts, and only during post season do kids meet other kids from other parts of the state. But even then, you are divided into class size.

With rodeo, it doesn’t matter if you live in a town of 200 or if you come from the largest city in the state. This sport is the great equalizer. It does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, or geographic location. If you can afford the entry fees, the horses, and everything else it requires, you can compete.

And some will say that the money issue does make this a sport only for those who have money. And there are definitely families who have bought their kids into the sport. But not all of us are like that.

My kids rode the horses that were available to them. They did whatever training was needed to make those horses into rodeo horses. And I think that made them better cowboys. Better horsemen. Better competitors. And training made them patient.

They had to put the time into their horses and wait for the result. Sometimes they had to wait for what seemed like eternity. They know their horses well. Quirks and all. They have had to struggle through rodeos with their ‘lesser’ horses due to injury or circumstances.

And they continued to compete. Not because they had the most expensive horses or the biggest trailer, but because they love the sport.

They have gone through slumps. In fact, my son that competes at UMW Dillon has been struggling for almost a year with his roping. He’ll bounce out of it in time. As long as he’s patient enough with himself.

So, I’ll continue waiting. I’ll work in between events. I’ll read. I’ll nap. And I’ll keep supporting both of my boys that are still competing. That may equate to decades of my life, since rodeo is a sport you can participate in until the end of your life.

I’ve timed senior pro rodeos. The age groups are 40-49; 50-59; 60; even 68 tie down. Some of these folks are well into their 70’s and still roaring down the road to the next arena.

I will be heading to Casper to watch my son compete next month. I may be heading to Tennessee after that to watch my youngest son at his national rodeo. My guess is, I’ll be doing a LOT of waiting during both events. And while I’m honing my patience, I’ll just have to see what Wyoming and Tennessee have to offer us rodeo moms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CNFR Baby!

Written on May 7, 2017

 

My son Cyris just qualified for his first CNFR.

This entire school year – last fall and this spring – has been a struggle for him. He hasn’t been roping at his best. He has put pressure on himself to get points. And that just made the situation worse.

Three weeks ago, he finally started putting some runs together. He was placing in the rounds and the averages, earning a few points here and there. Going into the last weekend of the spring season, he had gone from no standing to eighth in the Regional standings.

He had no hopes of making the CNFR team. He went into the Great Falls rodeo with no expectations. He roped in slack, toward the end, and had one of his fastest times yet: an 8.8. He ended up winning the long go, and led the event going into the short go. He was the last man to rope his calf.

He’s been in this situation before. He hates being the top man back. He puts too much pressure on himself. He forgets to just enjoy the run. He has been the leader before and, in his words, he choked.

This time was different. He waited for his second calf. He watched other men miss. He watched them have bad runs. And his opportunity started to show.

When he backed his horse into the box, he looked calm. Confident. He nodded. He and Fritz went to work. Cy caught just outside the barrier, about the same place as the day before. He had a good dismount and ran down his rope. He had to pick up the calf, but he did it easily. Then he went on automatic. He flanked the calf, strung his string, and tied. One wrap, two, half hitch, and done.

He walked back to Fritz and calmly got back on. He walked his horse forward and waited six seconds. Then the crowd erupted as the announcer said, “9.3”

Cy won the long go, the short go, and the average. And he made it look like just another day at the office.

I was sitting next to his girlfriend during the run. I couldn’t help myself. I was screaming for joy for my son. I hugged Regan.

Then I started looking at points. I mentioned to Regan that he had a shot to slip into the top three. We had to sit and wait through the first round of bulls. They announced that Cy had won the rodeo for the weekend. No surprise.

Then they announced the three men headed to CNFR. The announcer made it clear to the audience just what Cy accomplished that weekend. Because he won every round, he earned enough points to slingshot himself from eighth to third in the standings. He was thrilled for his chance to go.

I’ve known for four years that he had the talent to step up to the next level. But every year, at the qualifying rodeo, things fell apart. Either through bad luck or his own demons. His junior and senior years of high school, he led the tie down standings all year, made it to state, and ended up in the crying hole both years.

Last year, he hung out at the top of the Big Sky Region tie down standings and had a legitimate shot to make CNFR. Then he had a bad last rodeo. And ended up fourth for the year. (They take three.)

This year had gotten so discouraging for him that he admitted he was thinking of quitting. I convinced him to hang in there. Just hold out a little longer. I knew that things would turn around for him.

So much of rodeo is a mental game. Ropers have to be strong enough to shrug off a bad run. Sometimes Cy lets those runs take over his thoughts. He obsesses over his mistakes until they become like a poison in his head.

My hope for him is that this past weekend was a big confidence boost for him. He earned his spot. And now I want him to go to Casper in a few weeks and have another couple of great runs. That could carry him into the summer rodeos and start him toward a breakout junior season next fall.

We’re Casper bound. CNFR Baby!

 

Parking Peeves

We go to a lot of rodeos during the year. When I’m hauling horses, I try to get to the arena early enough to find an easy place to park. I hate backing up trailers, but I really hate doing it when I have an audience. It always amazes me how other people pull in and think of only themselves.

I just watched a person pull in to the rodeo grounds, late of course, and park right in front of the one walk-through gate that everyone uses to get from the trailers to the arena. I kept waiting for them to move their trailer ahead or back up so they weren’t blocking everyone’s access. Instead, they unloaded their horses and tied them up.

Because of that one trailer, everyone had to walk around those horses and trailer to get back and forth all day. Didn’t bother them a bit.

And I have to say, that’s one generalization about rodeo people that I have found is fairly consistent: they are rude. Not all rodeo contestants, of course. But a majority of parents and adult competitors seem to think that they are the only ones who matter at any given rodeo.

Last year, I pulled to a rodeo the night before it was going to start and parked in the spot we wanted. We set up our horse pen, got our little spot ready, and figured there was plenty of room for everyone else to park around us.

One trailer backed in perpendicular to us close to dark. But they left enough room so that we didn’t feel stifled.

Then about midnight, another trailer pulled in and backed in right in front of my pickup. I had unhooked the trailer and pulled ahead about four feet, in case we needed to run into town.

This guy decided that parking his trailer perpendicular to mine, leaving about two feet of space between their trailer and my pickup, was acceptable behavior. When I asked him if he could park somewhere else, he told me to go to hell. You see, they wanted to park near their friends.

So, I took pictures of how close they were to my pickup, I took pictures of their horses’ butts leaned up against the hood of my pickup. And I did it where they would know I was taking pictures of them.

When the mom confronted me about it, I told her that if any damage was done to my pickup by their horses or them, I had proof of how close they had parked to me.  At one point, they moved their horses to the other side of the trailer, but for the most part, they were obnoxious and entitled all weekend.

When I was trying to get my pickup hooked up on Sunday, the dad and son watched me struggle for fifteen minutes. I had no room to maneuver my pickup because of how close they had parked. Neither offered to help guide me. At most rodeos, the teenage boys will jump right up and help me get hooked up. Help me carry things to and from the pickup. Help with anything that I need. Those boys are friends with my sons and are a great bunch of kids to be around. But the people parked next to me couldn’t have cared less if they had made my task harder. The sad part is that that boy is going to be exactly like his dad when he grows up: selfish and arrogant.

These same people did the same thing to me a couple of years ago. At that rodeo, they had a huge field to park in but chose to park right on top of us. My sons had a roping dummy set out to practice on, and these people actually moved the dummy to right beside our trailer. I moved it back to the original place we had put it out.

They did that three times.

I finally told them to leave our property alone. If they wanted more room, they could move. After all, there were several acres of available space.

You see, I don’t really care where people park as long as they leave me, and my things, alone. When I go early to a rodeo and park with plenty of space around me, I expect to have that space respected. No one else has the right to move my things or my horses or park so close that we can’t tie our horses up to our own trailer. (Yep, I’ve had that happen, too.)

A few years ago, I finally started putting out lawn chairs, so that no one could park that close to my rig. I don’t take up an exhorbinent amount of room, but at the same time, I don’t think I should have to put up with people encroaching on my personal space.

When our boys first started competing, we actually had someone’s horse back into our suburban and put a big dent in it. At first, they agreed to pay for repair. But when I called his insurance agent on Monday, the guy had changed his story.

They claimed our dog made his horse back into our vehicle because our dog bit the horse. The horse was actually resting its butt on our suburban.

The agent asked if I had gotten any pictures. Of course, I hadn’t. He asked if we moved our suburban. I told him we had parked there first. He asked if we asked the other people to move. I told him that we had. We asked them to move over and we asked them to move their horses. Only after they caused damage to our vehicle did they move.

And of course, they got their entire family to lie for them, so we couldn’t recoup any damages from them. It was after that incident that I started taking pictures anytime I felt someone was parked too close. And I’ve gotten brave enough to ask people to move, either their horses or their vehicle, if they are parked close enough to cause damage.

This is just a pet peeve of mine. It’s something that should be common sense and respect for others. But it rarely turns out that way.

Rodeo folk, for the most part, pull into a competition, and just shut down. They don’t think about anyone else coming in behind them. They don’t think about what they might be blocking.

One night at a barrel race, a woman roared into the parking lot and shut her pickup off, parking perpendicular to about six other rigs. She didn’t check to see if anyone would be leaving. She didn’t worry about blocking anyone’s view of anything. She just unloaded her horses and went about her business, like she was entitled to anything she wanted. Damn anyone else’s needs.

Similarly, I’ve been at horse functions and have been sitting in a good spot, only to have people come and stand in front of me. They think that standing at the fence is the priority to those of us sitting in bleachers. I’ve had to ask people to sit down at a college rodeo – indoors – because my son was about to compete and they were standing right in front of us instead of sitting in their seats. And they had the nerve to flip me off and call me names! Loudly enough for security to hear. Alcohol played a factor in that interaction. When security stepped in, those folks decided to leave the rodeo.

For those of you out there who try to park with others in mind: thank you. For those who don’t: maybe put yourself in someone else’s shoes once in a while. We’re all there to compete. We’re all there to have a good weekend. Don’t infringe on someone else’s space or park on top of others. Have some respect for fellow competitors.