Anyone who has ever experienced the thrill of rodeo life wishes it could go on forever. To remain healthy, strong, and capable. To keep going down the road never giving a thought as to when it all might end. But we are finite creatures, only given a short time in life to live our dreams.
Rodeo is a great life, but it is also a sport, and as a sport it can and will take its toll. The personal decision to quit the rodeo will eventually affect every cowboy and cowgirl at some point along their journey.
While retirement can sometimes come too early and be forced, for many the decision on when to quit going down the road is a gut-wrenching and heart-breaking one.
Still, every cowboy and cowgirl who has ever mounted up, cracked a riggin', or burned some rosin must make that dreaded decision one day. For some it's easy and for others it's frightening.
Perhaps your reflexes have started to slow, or the healing between performances begins to take longer? You can't make that run quite like you used to? Who knows? The certainty is that for every rodeo cowboy or cowgirl the decision is deeply personal. Personal like the individual fire that drives these men and women down the road, chasing their dreams.
I had to suffer through this decision myself, although I was no where near the talent level of the top names. After a couple of years bareback riding, I took a couple of hard hits to my back that put me out of action. After a handful of treatments to remove fluid from my spine, I tried to return to rodeo but was nowhere near my former skill level, which unfortunately, wasn't very good in the first place. I tried all kinds of creative rehab, but I couldn't recapture my previous level of fitness or strength.
The most agonizing part of the process was that the pain was causing all the fun to evaporate out of this wonderful sport. The feeling of being cut in half with every buck, twist, and jump was something I just couldn't handle anymore.
Part of being a smart and dedicated competitor is knowing when to quit. Hopefully, when the time does come, you can look back with a warm feeling and say that you gave it your all and left it all out in the arena. Because really that's what it is truly all about, giving it your all, whatever that is for you.
Every cowboy and cowgirl can respect that.