- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

SHERIDAN, Wyo. (AP) - So much of rodeo comes down to time.

Time to practice, time to drive, time to wait, time to ride.

During an event, every second counts; before a rodeo, cowboys and cowgirls need time in order to prepare for events.

Steer roper J. R. Olsen said in the best-case scenario, practicing every day is the golden standard.

“Ideally, a lot of times you rope every day,” Olson said. “If you have the time and you’re dedicated, have the drive and desire to win, most of those guys are roping every day.”

Part-time rodeo cowboys like Olsen have to fit practice into every minute they have available, which can become a problem with bad weather, limited local competitors and competitions and other work.

“With work and everything, I have to sneak in my practice, either get done early or just schedule time for practicing,” Olson said.

For bareback rider Devan Reilly, being good at riding takes skill, true, but also a lot of time.

Not always time spent training like would be expected of any skill, but time spent traveling.

Reilly said his rodeo schedule doesn’t slow down as the year wears on; instead it keeps on going and going.

During cooler months he heads down to Texas for the state’s massive rodeo competitions.

“If you live in Wyoming and the rodeo is in Texas, that’s a 17-hour drive right there,” Reilly said.

Reilly is driving around the country with three other competitors in a Chrysler Grand Voyager minivan. They’re trying to live the rodeo dream, hitting as many rodeos as possible in a year in order to increase their chances of pulling cash prizes.

“On the Fourth of July they call it Cowboy Christmas,” he said, describing the increase in chances to win.

Once the holiday was over, they went from Casper on Tuesday to Estes Park, Colorado, on Wednesday, Getteson, Colorado, on Thursday, Sheridan on Friday, Casper again on Saturday and Laramie on Sunday.

“That’s how our schedule will be the rest of the summer,” Reilly said.

That type of non-stop mindset can make it tough for those who don’t rodeo constantly to keep up with.

“It’s not dependable; it’s not like you get a paycheck every week. If you don’t perform, you don’t get paid,” Olson said. “Not just show up, in competition you gotta win.”

That’s not to say people riding, roping or wrestling every day have an overwhelming advantage.

“Guys that are out there trying to do it 24/7, or for a living, or whatever you want to call it, (that’s) extremely difficult,” Olsen said.

Practice isn’t the only thing that keeps rodeo cowboys sharp.

“(We go to) the gym to get on bucking horses and saddle machines,” Reilly said.

He explained that some guys will watch film of their favorite rodeo athletes or read books about techniques or history of the sport.

Olsen said that besides having the time to compete, doing rodeo all the time can be a big weight on a person’s pocketbook.

“With a truck, and a trailer, and the gas, and the diesel, and the cost of the horses, travel, there is a lot of expense on top of not for sure getting a paycheck,” Olson said.

Being persistent and being good are two different things, and if a competitor isn’t able to pull off a win they probably won’t be doing rodeo for long.

“If it was easy I wouldn’t work, I would just go rodeo,” Olson said.

If a person wants to do rodeo full time, the work and the time are something to consider. While the thrill of competition may be grand, doing rodeo part time leaves little practice time and when going full time, being able to support a life outside of rodeo can become difficult.

“There’s no huge breaks,” Reilly said.

___

Information from: The Sheridan (Wyo.) Press, https://www.thesheridanpress.com/

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