Just Keep Moving
“No matter what obstacle or situation you are in, just keep moving.” – Jeremiah 60:22
I grew up in a rodeo family and traveled to rodeos all over the country, but never really loved it until the summer before I started high school. After playing sports and getting involved in girl drama through junior high, I decided I wasn’t cut out for that and went to a bunch of rodeos with my dad the summer before I started high school. After spending all summer with him and meeting more rodeo kids my age, I decided I wanted to high school rodeo. My parents were ecstatic. They both wanted me to rodeo my whole life but didn’t push it because they wanted it to be my decision. My dad had one stipulation though, “if I’m going to haul you all over the place to these high school rodeos, you’re going to be more than just a barrel racer.” I’d ran barrels growing up, occasionally entering the pole bending and throwing a rope at a dummy. So, I agreed to run poles and that I’d learn to tie goats. Once I got those things down, I’d start roping.
At first tying goats was all learning and my only expectation was to get a little better each time. If things went wrong, I chalked it up to experience and moved on. I was having fun and that was all that mattered. By the end of my sophomore year, I’d gained some points and made it to the short go at the state finals. As my junior year rolled around, I decided to set a goal to make it to the National High School Rodeo Finals. I’d been going to clinics, getting help, practicing a lot and improving consistently. I really enjoyed it too! Going into the first two high school rodeos of the season I was feeling confident and it showed. I won them both! I was on cloud nine, but I knew there was still a long season ahead. What I didn’t know is how, humbling, frustrating and educational of an experience was about to set in.
After those first two wins, things went to shambles. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. I fell on my face, fell on my butt, goats got up, strange things I couldn’t explain happened and I didn’t place for the next eight rodeos in a row. If something went wrong, I struggled to keep moving forward with the rest of my run. I was getting frustrated and discouraged, but I knew I had the physical ability, horsepower and heart to do it. I just had to figure out how to put it all together mentally. Finally, it was time for a break in the season and I got busy practicing.
My parents had just built an indoor arena that fall, so I decided not to go out for basketball that winter in order to practice all winter. I knew I didn’t just need to practice physically, but more importantly, I had to work on my mental game. My mom recommended the book “The Inner Game of Tennis” by Timothy Gallwey. As I read it, I came across this quote, “The ability to focus the mind is the ability to not let it run away with you. It does not mean to not think – but to be the one who directs your own thinking.”
After reading this, I realized I was so focused on making it to the high school finals at the end of the year, that I wasn’t concentrating on my individual runs. So, my mom and professional goat holder, suggested we start practicing scenarios to help me focus on only the things I had control of and keep moving through my struggles one run at a time.
Our scenarios consisted of a series of questions to set up the situation. What rodeo was I at? How is the arena set up? What’s the temperature like? What are the arena conditions? What did you draw? What number are you out? What is the time to beat? How is your horse acting? Etc. I’d close my eyes, visualize the scenario, take a deep breath and go make a run. When I first started my mind went a million miles a minute trying to get through the runs. I just wanted to win!! I just wanted to make it to the high school finals!! I got frustrated and made lots of mistakes, but I knew if I couldn’t get through a pretend scenario in the comfort of my own practice pen, I wasn’t going to get over my mistakes in the competition arena.
When things would go wrong, it would throw off my entire run and my mom would yell (in a persuasive, but sometimes get it together tone) “JUST KEEP MOVING”. I had to learn how to push myself mentally and physically through my bobbles. Just because one little thing went wrong, didn’t mean I couldn’t make up for it and still place if I just kept moving.
Mentally I had to learn how to slow my mind down and focus on one step at a time, physically I had to keep moving as fast as possible. Scenario after scenario in all sorts of weather conditions, it was starting to come together. I wasn’t just making good runs on easy goats, I practiced flanked from my knees, pretended to fall-down, did somersaults, etc. I was pushing through every scenario and each bobble quick and smooth, preparing for everything I thought could come my way. When the spring season came around, I was feeling more confident than ever.
The first rodeo back was cold and snowing, but I knew it wouldn’t affect me. I’d been practicing all winter in five to ten-degree weather. I had a pair of baseball gloves I’d wear until my hands warmed up and I’d practiced enough dismounts to get my legs warmed up and stretched out. I’d been to this rodeo and practiced 100 different scenarios at home and I was confident that I could go out there and make a good run. My horse flew down there, I got off, fell to one knee at the goat, but I didn’t let it slow me down physically. I kept moving, flanked from my knees and slowed it down mentally to have a smooth gather and tie. It was a 7.9 second run and winning the rodeo by a second and a half…for a second. In all my practicing and working through the mental and physical bobbles, I’d gotten in the habit of getting off the goat then going right back down and letting it up before stepping away. The tie was tight, but muscle memory kicked in and I went right back down and touched my string. The judge waved his flag reluctantly to disqualify me. I promised myself that day, I would never, ever do that again in practice or in competition!
I placed at every rodeo of the season after that. Taking it one run at a time, focusing on what I could control and I “just kept moving” through every obstacle that came my way. While the goal was still to make it to the high school finals, all I could do was put in the time in the practice pen and make my best run every time. If I made it or didn’t make it at that point wasn’t in my hands.
It came down to the last run at state finals to determine if I’d make it. I went out and made the very best run I could make. I ended up 3rd in the state and secured a spot to the NHSRA Finals! I’d done it! I took it one run at a time focused on slowing down my mind and remembered to “just keep moving”. I placed in the top 4 in the first round, top 10 in the second round which got me to the short go where I placed and ended up 5th in the nation.
Learning how to “just keep moving” has affected my life in so many ways more than just tying goats. Let the lessons you learn in competition seep into your everyday life and remind you that you can do it! Let them remind you that if you just keep moving and stay focused on completing each task, one at a time, to the best of your ability, you will come out ahead in the long run. Even on the days you want to throw in the towel, JUST KEEP MOVING!
It’s important to note that every question asked in the scenarios are completely out of our control. The weather, out of our control. The arena set up, out of our control. The draw, out of our control. The winning time, out of our control. Putting ourselves in these situations mentally in the practice pen teaches us to block them out and focus only on what is in our control.
This applies to all events and in life. It’s so easy to get caught up in the little things and forget to keep moving to the next step. You can still win, even if you make a bobble here and there. You can still reach your goals, even if you go through a spell where things never seem to go right, but you must stay positive and keep moving!
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