Now that its 2011, we all have had a while off to reflect on the past year and look hard into the future. Deciding what memberships to apply for and what associations to compete in may change, horses may change, and equipment may also change. Most important of all though we change and grow physically and mentally. All of these changes add up to change our desires and goals. The decision as to where you will compete is something you must think of at some point every year. The decision regarding what associations you compete in can be a matter of whether or not you want to travel so much this year compared to last year or maybe that you want to challenge yourself further. It can also involve the decision as to whether or not you want to go to pro.
In rodeo there is no real written rulebook or set of guidelines that tell you when you need to or should turn pro. In other professional sports they have to be chosen. In our sport you have to do it yourself. If you want to get to the higher levels then you must improve yourself and go to the places where you can challenge yourself and continuously grow and heighten your skill level. At any time you can change your mind and pursue something else. You can be the best in the world and decide to retire. Justin McBride did exactly that the year after he won the PBR World Championship in 2007. I think this is what makes our sport so unique. There are no guaranteed pay days, and no it all depends on you and only you. If you put the time and effort into it to make yourself the best you can be and consistently make the best rides and runs you will succeed.
There are people who may go before they are ready at times and sometimes people may wait too long before they make the step up. What I think most of us do is judge others without actually knowing their circumstances or values. When people do not know others values they make false assumptions of what they think is happening. For the rough stock side of things it really is a lot easier to make the decision because the only thing it comes down to is you. For the timed events it can be a matter of if your horse is ready too or if you are willing to pay mount money wherever you go.
For us rough stock competitors I believe the real question is not whether or not you have the ability to go pro or not. A deer look tells a different story. It's a matter of your values and what you really want to do. If your main goal is to make money riding then the odds are stacked highly against you. When listening to any of the top rodeo athletes in the Canadian Rodeo News or the Professional Bull Riders Tour on TV or anywhere else for that matter you do not hear them saying they rodeo to get rich or make a lot of money.
Their reasons to rodeo are more of those of prestige, such as being a World or Canadian Champion, or being the best there has ever been. I know for myself I have won the most money when my only thought was winning first every single time I nodded my head. Some people care more about money so it is what they focus on. Some people value their friendships and the good times higher than anything else. Others care more about doing something they love and not having to work a 9 to 5 job during the week, so they will do everything in their ability to not have that happen. They may go to the lengths of even taking a lower paying and much rougher job to achieve their desired experiences. So it basically is all about what makes you the most happy. If you want to go to Pro Rodeos but you do not make any money you might feel better winning at a lower level. If you want the prestige of qualifying for the Canadian Finals then you will do everything in your power to make it, even if it takes a long time. Finally making it will make it a worthwhile. If these different things are your true desire then there is really nothing stopping you. What would you consider rodeo to yourself? Is it something you do on the weekends with your friends? Is it something that you do because you love it and it's all you really know?
If you feel that you are ready and think you can compete and achieve the goals you have set out for yourself then there is no reason to let anyone else tell you that you can not do it. It is just a matter of what your core beliefs and values are and what you really want to do with your life. The only person you absolutely have to live with at the end of the day is yourself. The decisions you make shape your destiny.
One of the best things with rodeo is that you have the opportunity to go almost anywhere and do almost anything you want to do in the sport. You can be a World or Canadian Champion. You can ride and win at the Calgary Stampede or be a Champion at any other level. All you have to do is take yourself there. If you want to do it then you can. If you win and try the hardest your chances get better and better. Most of all because do what you want to do. Listen to the voice inside you that tells you your deepest desires.
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."