Competition & Injuries

by Speed Williams

Throughout my career as I prepared for big events I tried not to run as many on my good horses. When you practice a lot before a big event sometimes things happen. You burn your hand, jerk a shoe off your horse, etc. Quality over quantity is the best practice.
This year, before going to the state finals, Hali was running barrels and a horse tripped and fell with her running to the barrel. She hurt her right knee and shoulder. So, she didn’t get to practice team roping, breakaway, barrels, poles, or goat tying because both her knee and shoulder were a little loose.
We discussed it and she wanted to get up at 4:30 a.m. the day we were leaving to practice all her events. I said, “You haven’t been on a horse in four days and it won’t be smart to practice. You’re still sore and just starting to feel good.” Her answer was, “Dad you’ve always taught me to prepare before an event.”
I said, “Honey, sometimes you have to prepare your mind when your body is not able.” She didn’t agree but took my advice and didn’t rope that morning. She packed all her stuff and got everything ready to be at the finals early. About two hours into the trip she said, “Dad you were right, I only packed and loaded my stuff and I’m sore.”
The last year Rich and I roped together at the NFR I had a horse fall with me at the Dallas Stampede cracking a bone in my knee. Then, while practicing three weeks before the NFR, another horse stumbled and fell on top of me. It pinched two nerves in my back and popped two ribs out. My chiropractor would not touch me until I had an MRI done. When he did adjust my back, it sounded like a 22 went off. The problem was it had loosened up the ligaments in my back and when we got ready to go to the NFR in 2005, I could not drink a glass of water with my right hand. I was hurt. Rich and I had won eight titles in a row and I told him he needed to get another partner, that I didn’t need to go to the finals. He wouldn’t do it. I didn’t rope very good for the first seven rounds. I ended up getting on Viper the last three rounds. We were 3.9, 4.0, and 4.1 and won or placed in those rounds.
During the drive to Gonzales, I told my daughter sometimes things happen that you can’t overcome and you have to deal with it. She didn’t do very well in barrel racing, poles or goats. She was a little out of sync. But she spun three good steers in the team roping and won the breakaway.
We talked about it afterwards and I told her there comes a time when you have to take care of yourself and your body. As I got older I would practice less as we got closer to big events. That’s when quality over quantity is very important. The same goes for your horse. It’s not smart to make run over run on him. But keep him exercised and have him healthy. There’s a lot you can do to mentally prepare yourself. When I was competing all the time I tried to stay fit both mentally and physically.
I took the Speed Trainer down to Gonzales so Hali could do her drills for team roping and breakaway. Each day she roped about five of each to stay sharp. She couldn’t really ride very much without getting sore. That really hindered her in the barrels and poles because they are fast and physical sports. I’m not an expert in either, but when you’re wounded, the level of difficulty is off the charts.
Hali and Gabe ran into a little trouble in the team roping. Gabe lost a leg on one and fumbled his dally on another. They made the short go and made a nice run. During Hali’s entire Junior High rodeo career, she has spun all her steers but two. She ropes right to left, roping the right horn first, and not both horns at the same time. A lot of parents teach their kids to rope both horns at the same time and I think it’s a disservice to them because it’s actually harder and a lower percentage catch. It’s only a better shot when reaching.
Hali did prevail in the breakaway. She was 2.8, 3.0, and 3.1, and won the average and state championship. We will be headed to Huron, SD, soon for her last year at Junior High Nationals. I’m incredibly proud of both my kids and the hard work they put into their events.

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