Whenever I hear the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” I think of two things. First, I think of the reason for the season—Christmas and celebrating Christ’s birth. Second, I think of cowboys descending on the bright lights of Las Vegas by the thousands for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, as well as the World Series of Team Roping Finale. I wonder if there are many other occasions worldwide where the demographic of a city changes as dramatically as Vegas does those first couple weeks in December. In a city known for its bright lights and extravagance, it is truly awesome to see an ocean of felt hats as you walk through the casinos and tradeshows or take in one of the rodeos or ropings. The cowboy community spreads far and wide, and though you may not know everyone you encounter, there’s a comradery in just seeing those hats and knowing the people wearing them are “your people.”

For the second year, Go Rope Clothing Co. is incredibly proud to be a part of the Three Forks Saddlery booth in the tradeshow at the South Point Casino and Hotel. Located near the Missouri River Headwaters in beautiful southwestern Montana, Three Forks Saddlery has been outfitting the working cowboy and horseman for over 40 years. The Petersen family pride themselves on continuing to provide the services and products needed by the cowboys of today, as well as yesteryear. Each of their saddles is custom made by one person—start to finish. Using only the finest trees, quality leather, and top of the line hardware, they can ensure that you are as proud of their saddle as they are. The Three Forks Saddlery booth is located in the 100 block of the tradeshow on the main arena concourse at the South Point. I look forward to seeing you there.

If you are a team roper, you know that the place to be in Vegas is the World Series of Team Roping Finale, held at the South Point. This year, the WSTR Finale boasts prize money of 10 million dollars paid out over the course of 7 days. Denny Gentry and his crew continue to advance the team roping industry as a whole, and change the lives of lucky winners along the way. Most, if not all, of these ropings will pay over $200,000 to the winning team. Think about that. That is life changing money for most people!

Last week, the team roping world and rodeo community in general was shocked to hear that 7 time world champion team roper, Jake Barnes, had been in a horse accident at his arena while practicing for the WNFR with his partner, Junior Nogueira, and would not be competing at this year’s NFR. Jake suffered a severe traumatic brain injury when his horse fell and actually stepped on his head, causing brain swelling and bleeding. According to Jake’s Facebook page, he is now out of the hospital, resting at home, and on the road to recovery. Anyone who knows Jake Barnes, or who knows of him, understands that there is no “whoa” in Jake. He will undoubtedly be back to heading steers as soon as it is medically safe for him to do so. We ask that you continue to keep him in your prayers for a complete recovery.

As I personally prepare to compete in the WSTR Finale next week, I think of the magnitude of the event. It is a culmination of hundreds of jackpot and practice runs, and thousands of miles traveled for each roper. It’s the chance to compete on the biggest stage, for the biggest prize that most of us will ever experience. Some dreams will be made a reality, and some will be shattered in each and every short round. That’s roping. But there’s one thing I’d like to encourage all ropers to keep in mind this week—you are BLESSED for the opportunity to compete. We live in a free country that I pray will return to “one nation UNDER GOD.” If you have your health and the opportunity to compete in the sport you love, you’ve already won more than any short round can offer you. Soak it in this week—the bright lights, the fun, the excitement, the highs and the lows….and remember how BLESSED you are to be experiencing it all.

Life is short. Go Rope.