A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols


Dealing with pressure is a big part of winning.

I arrived at my Mom and Dad’s house around five in the afternoon. “Your Dad has been in such a dither about you riding in this rodeo,” Mom confided in me.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, they interviewed the stock contractor on the radio. He predicted you will win the bronc riding because you drew his best horse. Everyone has been asking Nick about it. It’s got him so nervous he can’t hardly stand it.”

Then Dad came in from doing chores. “Whats this horse you’ve got tonight?” he demanded.

“Red River. He’s a good one.”

“Well, can you ride him?”

I laughed as I explained that I could, and that I already had ridden him several times.

“Well Floyd’s been on the radio chirping about how you have this National Finals bucking horse and you’re gonna win the rodeo. Everyone in Saline county must of heard it. I go to the sale barn, and I got quizzed about it by everybody. Then down at the hardware store, they all had to interrogate me some more. It’s just crazy. Why would Floyd do such a dumb thing?”

“I don’t know. Sounds like a pretty bold thing to say.”

“I wish he’d of kept his mouth shut.”

Mom laughed, as she looked my way, “He’s been like this all week.”

Riding in the hometown rodeo and having the opportunity to win it, might have caused a little nervousness, but I could handle that. This was much different.

A fear of failure welled up inside me. I couldn’t bare the thought of my father having to deal with all his friends if I got bucked off.

When I prepared to ride that night, my mouth was so dry I couldn’t spit. I tried to get myself relaxed and loose, but that sick feeling would not go away.

Who ever drew Red River always went last. The announcer built the tension for the big climax as I settled in to my saddle. I called for the gate, and left the chute with a strong mark-out. I was anxious to get the motion started, but I held my spurs in the neck long enough to feel the timing. The red bronc circled to the right, having his normal good trip.

Dad had good luck that night, and I did win that rodeo. Afterword’s, I went up to where my folks were sitting. I sat down beside Dad. With a big heaving sigh he said, “Man, I’m glad that’s over!”

“Me too.”

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