WHY PPQ IS SO IMPORTANT
There was a straightforward reason the Practice Pen Qualifiers were done. COVID-19 shut down the team roping nation so this was a great alternative. Since we had the expertise and ability to do it, why not give it a try? From the association perspective it gave ropers something to do and really was a good diversion from the unknown that we all faced and continue to face today. From a pure business perspective it provided ropers with just under $800,000 in Finale entry fees just fewer than 200 teams. But it became much more than just the numbers as time passed.
Several thousand teams took us into their home arenas; ground zero for all team roping. We saw every type of arena from fancy indoor operations to makeshift wooden ranch pens. We saw every type of cattle you can imagine, dairy, longhorn, Corrientes, highlander, all sorts of beef breeds and some muleys. We saw low number teams competing on hard runners, and watched a team win the PPQ on the absolutely sorriest, poison pen of steers you can imagine. Why we asked, “it’s too far to the neighbors, and that’s all we have.”
In gest we all said if we were the cattle contractor there would be lots of requests for a reruns. Of course there was that one team……….their steer turned left before the barrel, and ran against the left fence. They didn’t ask for a rerun, but they did request mercy. Talk about determination, it was so hot in Arizona the phones or iPads would overheat (warning we could all see on the video) and they were forced to shut down, cool it off and start over.
If we had to describe what we saw at those home arenas, the best description was just pure basic fun. Families and friends yelling and clapping for each catch, wives cheering on some runs and giving sarcastic play by play on others. Occasionally the party was underway. We would rewind the video over and over again to read the comments from the friends on Facebook live… “ Never seen you catch two in a row”… ”Hey dude, why you kicking up on all these steers”…”You couldn’t borrow a good horse?”…”Please don’t let us enter anymore”!!!
The PPQ wasn’t always in remote locations, but there were enough remote locations that justified the need for PPQ on that point alone. The basic need to give everyone in the roping world access to the Finale became secondary to all of us witnessing what we already knew about family, friends and what this sport is really about. That which binds us together is our love of this sport. There will be some changes and additions that will be announced in December, but you can count on the PPQ being around for a while.
All of us, especially the staff handling the PPQ, absolutely loved it. Actually having direct contact with a single team on such a personal level was unique. And the tour of North America was fabulous! It was so cool starting early morning in North Carolina and Florida, hitting the west coast in the late afternoon - California, Oregon, and Washington. Then jumping over the pond and finishing late in Hawaii.
Speaking of isolated ropers, Hawaii is the most remote state you can imagine to enjoy the sport. There has been a lot of discussion on what it would be like to be a hardcore recreational team roper in Hawaii. Your options are to occasionally spend thousands to barge your horses to the states for the big ropings; or option two, maintaining horses on the mainland. But when we saw those Hawaiian arenas, those views, those sunsets…WOW! We will leave you with the banner image from the Miranda arena on their ranch near Makawao, Maui a Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town.
Thank you to all of our members who let us into your home, and congratulations to all “hometown, home field advantage winners,” good luck in Vegas!