I’m a gadget kind of guy. When I get into a new hobby, half of the fun for me is studying the equipment necessary to get really good or enjoy it as much as possible. My philosophy is that you need to invest in the right equipment to give yourself the best chance to reach your potential. My dad taught me as a young boxer that the right equipment can make all the difference. You don’t want to limit your chances by using crappy stuff, or by overlooking the most simple tools needed to kick some butt.
When I was 19, I followed my Gut and got on a bucking horse. I was hooked immediately.
I took all the money I had and bought rodeo gear. I used a Barstow riggin, a glove, some old chaps and some mismatched spurs. There was no YouTube back then, so I searched out old cowboys to help me get the equipment set up.
The most important of all the equipment was the glove and riggin. They needed to fit perfectly and required lots of trimming, sewing, and filing. I spent hours trying to perfect them. After the horse bucked twice, I would know if it was right. If it wasn’t right, my hand would slip and I’d find myself flying over the horse’s head or its back end. Rodeo after rodeo this went on and I got pretty mad about it.
I wasn’t seeing the results I hoped for, but felt I was doing what I should. After a rodeo in Lincoln, Montana, I shared my frustration with another cowboy who I respected. He asked me about my equipment, checked it out, and said it looked like I was on the right track. He told me to be patient and gave me a few tips on my riding technique.
As he was about to leave he said, “Let me see your spur rowels.”
“Spur rowels?” I thought. “What do those little things have to do with it?” I showed him the spurs and he looked in disbelief, “You’re riding with those?” I had mismatched spur rowels that were star shaped with round edges. I really didn’t even think about them. What did they have to do with being a good rider? How could something that small really matter?
“You need to get some new rowels like these!”
His rowels had five points that were squared off and looked similar to a gear. He then proceeded to tell me that a third of your ability to stay on the horse was dependent upon your spurring technique, and your rowels were the key. Squared off rowels produced more friction or drag. This friction takes pressure off your grip strength, which would help me stay on the horse. He also said that using my rowels correctly would make a cool sound that the judges would hear and give me higher scores!
I was blown away that such a small change could have such an impact on my results. I immediately got new rowels for my spurs and noticed a huge difference.
My rides started to improve and I quickly gained confidence to take more chances. I was still getting bucked off, but I was starting to Narrow the Gap between where I was and the cowboy I knew I was capable of being. When I retired from full time competition, I took those rowels off my spurs and have always carried one with me. I love the feel of the forged steel and square edges.
That rowel does two things for me:
1. It reminds me to do the little things right. My good friend and mentor, Jeff Spencer, teaches that it’s not about being perfect; it’s about doing the 2% of things that MUST go right. The right rowel represents that 2%.
We need mentors who’ve gone before us to point out the little things we must do. Most of the time, we get focused on what appears to be the most important things for us to succeed; the things that are “shiny” or crowd pleasing. Like a sweet new pair of chaps with the ace of spades on them. Yes, I bought those. No, they didn’t help me ride better, but I sure looked good!
2. The rowel also gives me courage. Riding bucking horses was scary. Each ride could have left me with horrible injuries. As dangerous as that was, I feel the same fear now as I get out in front of people to help them achieve what they know they are capable of.
I put my hand in my pocket and feel those square edges about 30 times a day. This reminds me to keep going, overcome fear, and kick resistance in the face. When I long for comfort, I feel those edges knowing that comfort is the enemy of the greatness that we all possess. Its my constant reminder to Narrow the Gap from where I am to where I’m capable of being.
The rowel has become my symbol; a reminder of my ultimate potential.
A year ago, I decided to make a replica of my rowel to give to others to remind them of their own genius and greatness. I looked all over the world for a company to make them. After a long search, I was guided to a place in Eastern Idaho about three miles from where I rode my first bucking horse. Crazy!
This rowel represents the tools we need to unlock our genius. I dedicated my life to Narrowing the Gap between my present state and my potential. The rowel is a tool that I see constantly, feel constantly, and hold always.
I can’t wait to help you unlock your genius and present you with one of these awesome symbols of the greatness you possess. Join me at Narrow the Gap on May 29 & 30 to get your rowel!