Practice The Basics For Superior Results

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

My dad shod horses for the public when I was a kid. He drove a white ’75 Chevy pickup with an old metal water tank fitted onto the bed and converted into a mobile shoeing shop. The water tank held his anvil, horseshoes, nails, foot stand, and other tools of his trade. He carried a brown pleather briefcase that contained his day planner, pens, checks and other papers. On the inside top cover of his briefcase were the words “Practice the basics for superior results.”

Back in the ’90s, Dad was an avid team roper. He was a #3 heeler in the USTRC back before the numbering system was changed, and he was one of the first subscribers to Spin To Win. Does anyone remember getting that publication when it was still in black and white with no ads? Just like today’s version, the first issues were jam-packed full of great info from team roping greats such as Jake Barnes, Clay O’Brien CooperSpeed Williams and Rich Skelton (ya gotta have Speed to get Rich!).

Dad had cut the phrase out from an issue of Spin To Win, and I remember seeing it many times while his briefcase was open on the kitchen table when he did his paperwork. It became emblazoned on my brain, and I have referred to it in countless situations, horse-related and otherwise, since my childhood.

“Practice the basics for superior results.”

When I’m having trouble with my roping, I go back to the dummy. Where am I looking when I throw a head loop? Am I dropping my elbow when I deliver my heel loop? Is my loop the appropriate size for the distance I’m standing from the dummy? Am I using the right rope for the kind of roping I’m doing?

“Practice the basics for superior results.”

I’ve discovered in 4 1/2 short years of marriage that it’s all too easy to forego the basic tenets of human relations. Daily, I remind myself to say “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and “how was your day?” to my husband.

“Practice the basics for superior results.”

When one of our horses is lame, we give him a thorough home exam before calling a vet, because we live a long ol’ ways from a vet’s office. We had a roan horse who was sure-enough three-legged a couple months ago, but we couldn’t detect any heat or swelling on the affected limb. I suggested that Jim pull his shoe, and he discovered that Snoopy had an abscess. Bingo! A basic, common injury that can cause a world of hurt. Panic mode and vet visit averted; bleach and limited movement to the rescue.

“Practice the basics for superior results.”

Due to my younger year spent driving ancient cars and trucks that broke down if they ran over a grasshopper, I have developed a case of vehicular hypochondria. If one of the gauges looks off or I smell hot brakes, my first reaction is to freak the freak out. But, thanks to common sense and basic engine knowledge, I now can pop the hood and check the engine oil level, coolant overflow reservoir and other fluid levels. When I smell something suspicious, I first look around and determine if the scary smell is actually coming from a passing big rig or ancient pickup nearby. It usually is.

Next time you’re flummoxed by learning a new computer program, kneading bread, changing leads or trying to drive a stick shift through heavy traffic, remind yourself to practice the basics for superior results. The phrase originated in a team roping magazine, but it extends to all aspects of life as well.


Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

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