Creating Pressure

by Speed Williams

Both Hali and Gabe were recently given the opportunity to rope in the Wildfire Sponsor roping for Precision HydroVac. Instead of heading against his sister, we decided Gabe would heel for me. He’s been heading very well and he’s been working at his heeling and dallying roping the Hot Heels and goats.
Last week he was heeling very well. Then the day before the roping, as so many ropers can relate to, the wheels fell off. He couldn’t get a cow to jump in his loop. He was trying so hard not to miss, and suffered the things that happen to our roping when we do that.
When we went got to Hamilton, before the Sponsor roping, we were able to run a few. After Gabe missed five or six in a row, I rode up to him in the box, in front of everyone in the arena. I said, “Buddy if you miss this one, it costs you five pushups.” Everyone was whooping and hollering and he missed. I told him he could go double or nothing on the next one. He missed again.
We got to the stripping chute and he hopped off and did his pushups. He asked why I embarrassed him and made him do push ups in front of all these people. I said, “Son did you get nervous?” and he replied, “Yes, I got real nervous.”
He has a bad habit where he takes his hand from behind head and pushes his rope forward and the bottom loop never gets to the ground. He did this on both steers. We visit a bit and I said, “Son, I’m trying to give you the pressure you’ll be feeling tonight, so tonight when you get nervous – are you going to be more nervous about roping or doing push ups in front on every one?”
My philosophy is it does you no good to rope cow after cow in the practice pen if you can’t get the excitement, nervous, or sticky fingers you will feel during competition. You have get your heart rate up and simulate the feeling you have at a roping. On our very first steer at the roping, we drew well and he roped two feet and got to do the Junior layback – he’s a huge Junior fan. I broke the barrier on our second steer, and he thought he had to go fast and hit a front leg. I was super proud of our first steer and the way he’s been roping overall.
Parents, occasionally in the practice pen I suggest you create a situation for your child to win something, or maybe think of something they don’t want to lose. Whether it’s their favorite place to eat, a movie they want to see, or an extra hour before bedtime. Create some kind of pressure in the practice pen where they want to win or don’t want to lose.
When my kids were young, if they caught ten times in a row, we went to the movies. I’ve never made my kids rope, but if there was something they wanted I gave them a way to win it. I’ve been blessed my daughter has always been a cowgirl and wanted to ride horses since she could walk. Just this year Gabe has really caught the roping bug. You can see some of our practice runs in preparation for the Sponsor roping at


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