When you’ve seen as much calf roping as I have, and you stand up as much as I did in a performance in the Thomas & Mack, that’s saying something.
I just love these young guys bringing that excitement and energy down to that end of the arena.
I actually called that record falling before that perf. Caleb (Smidt) was 6.8 in the morning perf, and I thought he’d do it then, honestly, but he flanked the calf on the back and ended up being longer. Every time Riley or Shad were 6, I pointed out that when they make their stereotypical runs with no mistakes on good calves, if they’re 6 with bobbles, they’re definitely going to be challenging the record if not breaking it.
That record stood for 20 years from the time Cody Ohl set it in 2003, to when I did in 2015, to Shad tying it last year. I thought it would be broke long before this, honestly. But everything has to happen right for you to be that fast.
This year, I went and watched them run the calves through the Monday before the Finals started, and I commented that I never had seen a set of calves break so true, so easy to read at the start. Usually the break in they’d received in Vegas was all they got, and it was a guessing game for the first three rounds. It’s like having a re-run now, because you can trust what the calf did in the run-throughs. We had seven rounds of something we could kind of trust as far as a pattern, and this year I think they have 10 rounds of it, thanks to Jeff Yates and Lanham Mangold.
I’ve always said records are made to be broken, and I’ve meant it. If money records aren’t broken, it’s sad. I want the earnings records to be broken annually. Not only for the great talent that there is out there, but how they’re learning, as they should, from every generation before them. The talent, the opportunity, the money—rodeo as a sport with the exposure that it’s getting now versus then is just so different—hopefully this trend never stops.
When I was coming up, Ty Murray was (and still is) the man. Ty had always set such a good example of the culture of it all, of what all this really means. Had Larry Mahan won eight all-around titles, Ty may have figured out the way to win nine. At the time, those records are what drove Ty. All I wanted to do was pass Ty Murray. I’m sure Stetson is thinking the same thing in this generation. Records are not only made to be broken, they’re made to inspire, like Ty did for me. And Haven is going to inspire the next group.
Kids have more opportunity today, and that leads to experience. Experience is something that came later in life for generations before. Those guys now have so much experience by the time they’re 20. It’s the only way to get the wisdom it takes. They’re developing competition maturity under fire, and they have a lot of opportunities. I remember growing up, it was the AJRA, and we had 10 rodeos a year, and we had a 10-hour drive to one of them. Now everybody can go everywhere all the time, and that’s great for competition maturity.
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