Coaching up the ranch kids to be the rodeo champions of tomorrow.
Before anyone gets their Wranglers in a twist, let me start by stating I am not actually a rodeo coach, but my kids are just barely old enough to want to rodeo, so I’m encouraging their ambitions with maternal guidance and support. I have only a vague idea of what I’m doing, so I feel like I qualify as an amateur.
Here are the events I coach and my basic approach to shaping the careers of tomorrow’s rodeo athletes.
We strap a bareback rigging on a gentle ranch horse so our boys can practice in the round pen at a walk, with a parent holding the lead rope. If my husband, Jim, is busy, I’m in charge of roughstock riding practice. It’s a role I never thought I’d have and one I feel completely unqualified to undertake. The only advice I can offer is, “Point your toes and remember to breathe. Breathing is always good. Oh, and don’t fall off. I feel like that’s important. Did you pet your horse? Maybe we should pet your horse. How about a drink of water? Do you need a snack? Jim, are you ready to take over yet? I need to go find snacks.”
I feel slightly more qualified as a barrel racing coach, because I had a Sharon Camarillo saddle when I was a kid. I find myself saying things that all moms with daughters who barrel race are required to say, such as “Sit! Lift! Hustle!” when she practices at home in the plowed-up section of brush pasture we use for an arena. It won’t be long until we’re hauling to rodeos and I’m ruining the audio on all her videos by screaming “Kick! Kick! LOOK!”
Would all young barrel racers start running into the fence if their mothers didn’t stand in the front row of the bleachers and yell at them to LOOK? I don’t know, but I feel like it might be the glue that holds together the junior rodeo world, so I’m not going to break tradition and find out.
My main strategy for coaching young team ropers is to stand on the porch and yell, “Don’t rope your brother around the neck! And don’t jerk your slack! Well, don’t jerk your slack too hard, anyway – try not to leave a mark.”
Basically, I know what not to do when roping.
This is where I really shine – as an announcer. I always start with Chute Number 73 and all the bulls have names like “Popsicle” and “Dream Catcher.” The boys may disagree with my claim that I’m an outstanding announcer, but after calling 2,385 bouncy ball bull rides on the trampoline, a mom has to branch out or she’ll lose her mind.
No matter what events they choose, I’m here to encourage, support, and help my kids find more qualified rodeo coaches as they grow older. And I bet after a few trips on sons of Woopaa and Bushwhacker, they’ll be wishing for a couple rides on ol’ Popsicle.