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Posted on Jun 16, 2013
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Classic Jake and Clay


After starting and running a national team roping magazine for years, I can't tell you how difficult it is to come up with information that is new and fresh each an every month.  Besides the usual "results" from ropings, it gets to be nearly impossible trying to say the same things in different and interesting ways.

Over the years Jake and Clay have done a pretty good job with their monthly feature in Spin to Win Magazine, some a little stronger and some a little weaker. Nevertheless, I thought this July issue was one of their best and let me explain why. Jake finally got old enough, and secure enough to express himself on the unmentionable, about "Learning to Lose".  That's something that everyone in the world has to deal with, and yet I don't recall any roper ever talking about it publicly.


From our vantage point as ropers, and also our vantage point from the announcers stand,  it probably looks worse than it is, but man do we see a lot of it. Grown men throwing their ropes in the air when the partner misses, yanking on a horses face, and even a little horse abuse behind the box.  My favorite is when the header misses and the heeler ropes the horns. Had a contractor that use to have his chute hands automatically, accidently, spill the steer with the heelers head loop through the stripping chute, so the heeler could reflect on his head loop while retrieve his heel rope in the cow manure. Sportsmanship rules were implemented decades ago help throttle the inevitable emotions of disappointment. Anyway I thought Jakes' piece was well done, and certainly it was ABOUT TIME someone brought up the subject.

So as pleased as I was to see Jake's article, I flip three or four pages and here is Clay's article on "Staying the Positive Course". For those of you that don't know, Clay nearly single handedly changed the general attitude of the entire roping world from the arrogant, trash talking, head games, smart ass team roper, (pre-Jake and Clay) to professional, POSITIVE, competitive athletes with respect for their fellow competitors. For those of you that are old enough to know what I'm talking about great. For those of you that don't know, ask the older guys or ask me I will be happy to give you 15 minutes on the subject.


Clay is the king of positive, and although he has been a roping hero to thousands,  he certainly has been an inspiration to a lot of us on a completely different level.  It took me just two questions to Clay to understand who he was and why he wins. In 1990 I was just starting my education on roping competition, I believed that Championship ropings needed to be contested across long scores.  I had a 400 foot arena at the Lazy E for the first US Open and  didn't pass the opportunity to test my theory. Needless to say, we had a lot of open ropers not mounted so well raising cane about the barrier.

I found Clay and asked him about the barrier. Clay thought about his answer and politely said, " I realize a long barrier gets some guys out of sync, but I love it because I think it is a real advantage to me and Jake because.......". The rest of that answer really didn't make any difference.

So fast forward a few years to the point that the new "roper thing" was for open ropers to ride really high shape. This was followed by low number ropers riding really high shape, which was followed by truck after truck load of roping steers ruined. I implemented the heeling barrier to solve this problem which at that time was about ten times more controversial than implenting electronic barriers, or WS barriers. The following winter at Desert Hills I did not pass the opportunity to ask Clay his opinion on the heeling barrier.  His response was a pause followed by, " you know I think the heeling barrier is a major advantage to a roper like me because........" answer not important.

It only took two direct questions for me to figure out that no matter what the situation, Clay would be able to figure out how that situation was advantageous to him as a roper.  So for those of you that did not read "Staying the Positive Course", I encourage you to revisit it, cut it out and hang it in your saddle room.

A lot of people have made a variation of the following statement, but somehow, coming from the king of team roping it has much more impact , " If I'm not having fun, no matter what's going on, and I'm not able to have a good attitude, then I'm out of balance and in the big picture of life roping is meaning too much to me. Roping shouldn't be able to ruin my day or take my peace away." Clay O'Brian Cooper,  July/2013

Ok think back to Jakes' description of what happens and how ropers sometimes react emotionally when things go badly, insert Clay's philosophy liberally.


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