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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Surrender - Casey Allen

Hi everybody! To those of you that don’t know me, my name is Casey Allen and I am a high school senior in Pennsylvania. This year I returned to Sky Ranch for my second trip to the Elite Clinic for breakaway roping. Right after I got home from Texas, I took my midterms, re-packed the trailer, and prepared to leave for Oklahoma City for the International Finals Rodeo (the finals for the IPRA) to barrel race. 

About 12 hours before we were supposed to leave for the first rodeo on our route, I got a call from the man who was cleaning stalls for us that night. He sounded distraught saying, “Casey, we don’t know what happened but Switch is lame; you should come look at him right away; we can’t get him to move.” I immediately headed down to the barn where I found my beloved red roan holding his leg high in the air, sweating despite the freezing air, and breathing rapidly. I tried to keep my cool as I called my parents, the vet, and I almost called the President. Long story short, he had an unexplained injury to his back right hock, and there was a slim chance he would be able to run much less make the haul to OKC. 

Fast forward a week: every horse I had lined up to ride at the biggest rodeo of my career had either gone rogue on me, or had some other unanticipated problem. I spent my entire week hauling to jackpots in the cold instead of dressing up and touring OKC with my friends. On the outside and on social media, I was handling it the best ever. I was strong with an unshakeable faith. I was doing TV interviews, shaking hands, and kissing babies; the poster child for a mature athlete. But inside, I was miserable. I didn’t want to run the first round, I cried nonstop when everybody wasn’t looking, and I begged God to reveal His plans to me. All I wanted was to have a normal finals experience. I had worked for four years to get to that point, and all that my week held was pain where joy should have been.

During the week I received a text from my good friend Bobbi York completely shifting my perspective.  It simply read, “Remember who you’re riding for.” I had lost sight of who had actually gotten me to Oklahoma and had selfishly started thinking I was in control. God wasn’t asking me to go win the average, but just to give it everything I had. God didn’t care if I won every round, He only cared that I glorified Him in the process. I repeatedly thought of the verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

This verse continued to play through my head and finally, the night before round one, I reached a place of complete exhaustion bringing me to my knees, telling God that I was surrendering and handing the reins over to Him. I had never been broken down as low as I was that night, but the next morning I woke up with a peace that I had never felt before. My fears were gone and I felt nothing but excitement as I went down the alleyway in all four rounds. It was honestly the best place I have ever competed in mentally, physically, and spiritually. When the other girls were as tense as ever, I was rapping and joking around in the warm up pen. In fact, my parents and others were more nervous than I was!  I became the collected athlete that I had never before been able to conduct myself as, and it felt pretty awesome.

I ended up jump riding a horse named Foxy in round one, and when I came out of the pen after my first run with a time that was a half second off the pace, I literally screamed. I couldn’t explain the joy I felt. My parents said they had never seen me so happy to NOT win! I went in the next three rounds with a drive that I had never run with before, knowing that God was with me every step of the way. In the second round, I barely tipped a barrel to win second in the average. I came back in the third round to win fourth (almost falling off in the process), and then took second in the 4th round!

 I had a mediocre finals compared to some other girls, and a way better finals than others, but that wasn’t what I was thinking about. I finally had something that made what mattered in the arena not affect my attitude because in the eyes of my Creator I knew that I had already won. The IFR came to mean so much more than a paycheck or a chance at fame for me.

When I got home, all I heard was people telling me how sorry they were that I had gone through that entire ordeal at the IFR. I laughed every time and attempted to explain why it was actually a good thing. As a closing note, feel free to learn from my mistakes! When something crazy pops up on the rodeo trail, or in life, surrender it over to the man upstairs because once He takes it He replaces bondage, worry, and fear with freedom, peace, and joy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Listening - Abbea Faris

I am so excited for the 2016 season! I’m itching to back out there and start roping again. Last summer and fall were rough. I had no confidence or motivation, so I decided to take a break this winter, and I am feeling better than ever. My goals for this college rodeo season are to make every short go and win the rodeos. After rodeos end in May, I plan on attending the big jackpot in MontanaThroughout the summer I will continue to go to jackpots and rodeos in hopes of winning the year end title for WRA and CPRA.

   Throughout my everyday life I continue to grow in my relationship with Christ, falling a little more in love each day. This year already has been a learning experiencing of how to actually listen to what The Lord is telling me  The past few months, I have been ignoring what the Father was telling me, and when I finally listened, everything got so much better, and I found joy and peace in obedience.

 I plan on continuing to take my grandpa to church every chance I get and continuing going to  Bible Study throughout the week.  This is my last semester of school for now, and  I will graduate with two different Ag degrees. We currently have the availability to practice every day at school, and I have been alternating practicing with two head horses and two calf horses. 

Rodeos start in a couple weeks, but I have still been attending jackpots.  We leave Friday for the Three Star Roping in Amarillo, Texas. I don’t quite know what the future holds, but I can’t wait to see what He has in store as I continue to pursue my goals with His guidance.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

God is Good - Abbea Faris

I can’t believe it is the end of the year already! What a great year the Lord has blessed us all with! I transferred to a different college this year and I absolutely love it! For a while God has been telling me to transfer to a different college, Cheyenne. So, a week before classes started, I transferred here and have loved it ever since! One of my favorite parts is The Roundup Bible Study group. It’s mainly rodeo kids, but the Bible study and the leaders have changed my life and so many others! The Lord is a wonderful one, if you allow Him to be in control and listen to Him. He won’t let me give up and keeps pushing me to achieve my goal of making it to the CNFR this year. Through this training, I try to have a positive attitude, live life to the fullest, have a smile on my face, and share how great the Lord is to everyone around.

 There is much of a difference in my practicing during this time of year. I’ll give my horses a couple weeks off, then I usually still practice throughout the winter, weather depending. At Cheyenne, rodeos ended in early October, but we are still practicing. It has been awesome to get the opportunity to work with other horses besides my good ones. I couldn’t be any happier with how all my horses are working; the good ones and green ones, God is so good! Classes are also going well. When you study something you enjoy, it makes school go by a little easier. I am taking a math, accounting, agricultural records, and an agricultural finance class.

I continuously go to jackpots throughout the year, but rodeos are pretty much over around here. Summer and fall rodeos did not go as planned. I was holding myself back through mental games and went through a slump of being 1 for 10 and it was a break out. The week between the last college rodeo and WRA finals, I finally got baptized. It was something that had been on my heart for the last year and a half, but the timing had never worked out. After being baptized, I felt refreshed, cleansed, a new person. I was confident again and felt myself trusting the Lord and His plan. I went out and finally made a solid run. Also, I was blessed to have a great day at a jackpot and won a saddle in the #9 roping!

Today is a good day for a good day- God Bless!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Putting the Pieces Together - Bobbi York

Rodeo is one of the biggest parts of my life. I live, breathe, and think about rodeo. If I could go to college and major in roping, I totally would. At the end of fall high school rodeo season, I’m sitting in a good spot to make it to nationals, and I am finally roping like I want to be. My school work is going great, I am loving all of my classes, and I’m closer to God than ever before. I mean, it's pretty easy to thank Him when everything is going right. 
During my last fall rodeo, my first calf wasn’t the way I wanted it to be. I threw it in the dirt and my horse didn’t work right, despite all of the time I put into scoring and working on her. After that run, I asked God if this is what I should be doing because at that moment, nothing was quite falling into place. But the next day, I chose to not worry about my last run. I focused on the run I was given at the moment, and it ended up being the best I’ve ever roped. I roped in a 2.4 and my horse was spot on. Leaving the arena, I received countless words of praise and encouragement. I thanked God for putting all the pieces together.
But sometimes, the pieces don’t fit together, and that’s just how God wants it. A month ago my uncle, who helped fill in as a dad in place of my absent one, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Being a Vietnam veteran, he was a hero in my eyes. A hand with a rope, a kind man, and tougher than dirt, he was everything I want to be. But on November 21, his pain and suffering came to end. Throughout it all I prayed for God to heal him. I prayed that God would let him get better. But that wasn’t in God’s plan. Four days after the funeral, my grandma was taken to the hospital with chest pain, rushed to a larger hospital, and put into the ICU. I am still praying for God to heal her; I want God to put all the pieces together. Like my rodeo this fall, I am still wondering if I am doing the right thing. I don’t know if I am praying for their healing, not just for them, but selfishly for me. Unlike that rodeo run, it's a lot easier to thank God for everything when it's all working out for you. However, I am trying to thank Him for everything He has blessed me with. As it says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Like I said earlier, rodeo is one of the biggest things in my life, but it's not THE biggest. That’s a spot reserved for my Lord and Savior. I try to live for Him, let Him work in and through me, and lean on Him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Off Season - Hunter Washburn

Well, it's that time of the year again; it is cooling off, and you might be practicing a little less. It's the off season, so what do you do now? Weather permitting, I still practice as much as I can. When I'm practicing at this time of the year, I am working on any prospects I have. This year I have two- a gray mare and a sorrel and white paint gelding. The mare has been roped off of, and she's doing very well so far. I've ran about fifty steers off of her, and she hasn't done much of anything wrong. Her only fault is not running through the hole as hard as she does getting there. 

The paint horse has never been in a box or around cattle, so we are taking things a little slower.  He has come a long way in the last six months. I've ran him by about ten steers and tracked a good number of steers around the pasture and arena. I will continue with what I'm doing, and in the spring I'm planning on jumping off of him.

Working on prospects allows me to work on my horsemanship throughout the winter, so when I come to the start of summer, I'm riding my horses very well. I also sit down and watch old videos, mentally preparing myself, tearing my runs down, and rebuilding my foundation. This is also a good time to let your body heal from the stress and strain of the rodeo trail.

The Lord as shown me numerous things this year and has blessed me in many ways. I’ve stayed healthy this year, and I will be competing in the ACRA finals in a few weeks. I also have some really good horses under me with great people helping me. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Straight Paths - Rope Myers

  Lynn McKenzie likes to say “clocks like straight lines,” and as a World Champion barrel racer she would know. This phrase also rings true in the other events.  In the steer wrestling the straightest path past the steer is the fastest. In the calf roping we want to break to the pin in order to get straight behind the calf.  In the calf roping and the goat tying we go straight down the rope. In team roping the time stops when both ropes are straight and taught. “Clocks do like straight lines.” 

  One training tool to work on straight lines is to use a rake.  It is a really simple trick, but it will help you to see the path you are taking to the animal and to see if you have straight lines. 
              1. Leaving the box
a.      Rake the front of the box and about 15’ in front of the chutes between runs. Then look at your horse’s path.
b.     For calves the tracks should be right behind the calf by about 20’ in front of the chutes.
c.      For steer wrestling your horse’s tracks leaving the box should line up parallel to where you caught the steer.
              2.   Down the rope
a.      For goat tying, between runs rake around the area where you get off of the horse to the goat.  This will let you see if you are running straight to the goat and pinning him on the end of the rope.
b.     For calf roping, rake beside the rope when you are tying from the post. This will allow you to see if you are running straight to the calf, and it will also let you see if you are placing your feet in the right place to flank the calf.

In the practice pen, just like in life, sometimes the best way to see where your problems lie is to look back and see where your footprints were landing. 

“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”    Hebrews 12:12-13

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bumps and Slumps- Abbea Farris

This summer the Father had a different plan for me. I started the summer off by entering the same rodeos as I always do and planned on entering more as the summer continued. They all started off great until we hit a bump in the road. My good horse injured itself causing me to enter into what most people call “a slump.” I decided to take some time off and get some good practice in, improve my fundamentals, work, and spend time with my family before I left for college again in the fall. During tough times like this, I just have to remember that everyone goes through slumps in life and to keep my head on straight. Hoping I have worked out some of these problems, I will be going to a few rodeos the last month of summer! I am rodeo hungry and ready to go! 

This summer has also been filled with work and family. I am working construction 35 miles north of town. I have a lot of family that live out there, so it has been very convenient being able to see them more this summer. Every Sunday I’m home, I take my grandpa to church. With work being so busy during the week, then going straight to roping at night, a lot of my time is taken. So you could say, Sundays are our grandpa-granddaughter days. After church, we go out to lunch and simply spend time with one another.

This summer has been difficult at times, but I continue to keep my head up and remember the important things in life. Family is very important, so it has been nice to be catching up with them. But I cannot wait to be competing in rodeos again! No matter what, God is great, and I am blessed and thankful for another day.      

“All things are possible if you believe.” Mark 9:23