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Making Every Run Count

by Donna Irvin

With Ropenator and Performance Coach Sharon Camarillo, my rodeo dreams were coming true. After consulting with Sharon and working on identified problems between rodeos, here’s how I warmed up for the pro rodeo in Red Bluff, California.

  • I used a Bumper Bit to lighten Ropenator in the face and regain his responsiveness.
  • I worked through some 360º turn-a-rounds and incorporated some sprints and collections to get rate on Ropenator’s mind.
  • I incorporated some reverse arcs to lighten Ropenator’s shoulder and rib cage.
Running the Plan with Vaquero was turning him into a great athlete.
Donna and Ropenator competing at
the Pro Rodeo in Red Bluff.

My warm-up took about 50 minutes to reach the point where I felt my horse was peaked for his maximum performance, both mentally and physically. After additional visualization, I felt I was prepared. Now it was time to go have some fun!

I finished sixth of 84 WPRA riders which put a check for over $500 in my pocket for the 1st Go run. NOW were talking! Evaluating my performance, I felt I ran a little deep behind the first barrel. Sharon and I discussed my 2nd Go run strategy.

My nerves got me as I prepared for my 2nd Go run. I had trouble maneuvering Ropenator through the gate and into the start position. We are always aware that our 1st barrel is our money barrel; it sets the timing for the remainder of the run. So, my start was critical for me to set up my first turn. I babied Ropenator into position, which resulted in a poorly positioned 1st barrel turn. NO check in the 2nd Go run, but I was able to qualify for the Tour Round Finale in seventh position, giving me one more chance!

Running the Plan with Vaquero was turning him into a great athlete.
The “three amigos.”
Donna on Ropenator,
Sharon on Vacquero,
and Cheryl Price.

I regained my ROAR for the final performance. This was so exciting and is what professional competition is all about. I love it! I made my warm-up count to peak Ropenator and myself for the run of our lives. This time, I was not going to let my horse dictate our start by taking charge at the gate. I picked up my over-under to get his respect and attention in the alleyway.

He had the best first barrel of the three runs, straight approach to the second barrel, and a spectacular third turn. I won second place in the Tour Round Finale and moved to fourth place in the average. What a great thrill and experience, not mentioning the $2,000 in my pocket to boot!

My success at Red Bluff brought home how invaluable a performance coach can be! Sharon reminded me of my resources and prepared me to maximize my performance with Ropenator. Four eyes are certainly better than two, especially in the “Bigs!” Before leaving “Camp Camarillo” I had the chance to enter four additional professional rodeos. I won checks at three of them. Nothing demonstrates the value of a performance coach like success.