By Tristan Watson — originally published April 2014
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Taylor Jacob, the 2013 WPRA Rookie of the Year and National Finals Rodeo qualifier.
Tristan Watson: How many rodeos did you try to compete in, in order to make it to the NFR?
Taylor Jacob: I didn’t ever really have a certain number of rodeos I wanted to go to; instead, I tried to focus on going to enough to make the Finals, but not too many to make unnecessary runs. I didn’t want to burn my horse out, and I wanted to keep him fresh and feeling his best.
TW: What was your main goal your rookie year?
TJ: My main goal for my rookie year was to make the NFR.
TW: In your personal opinion, how tough is it to make it to the NFR?
TJ: It is extremely hard to make the NFR. You not only have to have a high-caliber horse, you have to be a great rider able to adjust to different setups and situations. You have to be a bit of a veterinarian, too. I say this because you have to keep your horse sound and feeling great while going down the road. You also have to be mentally tough. You have to swallow each loss and win and move forward to the next run and not let the last run affect you. This is something easier said than done for me. You have to commit yourself to being away from home and living in your trailer without your family. All in all, you have to be 100 percent devoted to pursuing your dream.
TW: What advice would you give to someone trying to make the NFR?
TJ: Know your horse. Know what type of setups he or she excels in and know how to tell when he or she needs a break or needs to be tuned on.
TW: Who does a rookie need to have on their “team” in order to succeed?
TJ: To me, the most important aspect of mine and “Bo’s” (Honor Thy Frenchman) team is the support and love of family and friends. Having them encouraging and helping me along the way was really important to me. It’s also important to have someone who has rodeoed before that you can call for help and advice. Because they have been out on the rodeo road, they are able to offer real-life tips and tricks. A good veterinarian who knows your horse and his or her tendencies and needs is also of the utmost importance. I didn’t have but one horse this year to help me qualify for the Finals, but having more than one would be nice.
TW: When you make a run and feel like you didn’t do your best, what do you do to improve the next run?
TJ: I try to video each run I make so I can go back and break it down. When I break down the run, I try to find something I did well and something I can improve on for the next run.
TW: What did you do to keep your horse in the best shape possible while on the road?
TJ: In order to keep Bo happy and in shape, I try to let him rest in large pastures. When he is at home in Texas, he stays in about an acre lot with grass, so I try to keep him in similar setups while we are on the road. The large area allows him adequate room to walk around and stretch out, which keeps him from getting sore. Other than that, if we have a few days off, I simply ride him around and try to keep him light in the mouth.
TW: You are just as much an athlete as your horse—what do you do to keep yourself in shape on the road?
TJ: While on the road, I try not to eat out all the time, not only for health reasons, but also because eating out gets expensive. I also try not to eat too much junk food from the convenience stores.
Good luck to Taylor Jacob and Honor Thy Frenchman (“Bo”) in the 2014 season and road to the NFR!
Tristan Watson is an avid barrel racer and long-time contributor to Barrel Horse News’ Youth Forum section. Email comments on this article to [email protected].