Hey, hey! Welcome back to Friday Bullpen Sessions! Today, we have an extraordinary guest who’ll share some practical insights that will help you achieve success in business and life. So grab a pen and a paper and sit up, shoulders back because this is going to be one wild ride.
I feel honored to have Richmond Champion, who took some time off in the middle of his participation in the National Finals Rodeo, with us today. I was lucky to have his wife, Paige Lawrence, a Canadian figure skater in the 2014 Olympics, as our guest a month ago. This week, I got luckier as I got to talk to him about how he, as a rodeo athlete, prepares mentally and physically to play and ride to his peak performance.
In this interview, we’ll learn about his early career and how getting on the back of a bucking bronco helped him prepare for life. Shifting from bull riding to horse riding in his teenage years, Richmond successfully built a career as a professional world-class bareback rider over the years. He attributes his success to having the right mindset. So if you’re ready to get whipped by our conversation and inspired to do the same, let’s jump in!
Who Is Richmond Champion?
Richmond Champion is a top-ranked world bareback rider. He’s a 5-time Wrangler Finals Rodeo Qualifier and has won significant ranks in multiple rodeo shows. He holds the record of the first cowboy to earn $1 million at a single rodeo.
Richmond finds value in the role of mental preparation in his career as a bareback rider. He sees this as a key for his ability to take charge over his fears of riding the scariest horses and having the courage and consistency of showing up ten nights in a row for national finals.
He has been leading the bareback riding field, and I know that the practicality and simplicity of his approach to riding could definitely make an impact on your life, too.
If I Can Do It Here, I Can Do It Anywhere
The Professional Bull Riders were heating up when the 13-year-old Richmond’s fascination with riding bareback horses began. Initially, he rode bulls, but a realization hit him that made him shift to riding bareback horses.
“I rode bulls for three years. I’d got on a lot of them, but it is a very unsuccessful picture for me. I’d say that the only thing I’m most thankful for was when I shifted to riding bareback horses. There’s a lot of crossover between the two — getting on a scary animal and being in a steel cage with them.“- Richmond Champion
After years of riding bareback, Richmond decided that he did not want to do amateur Rodeo anymore. He thought it was time to take things up a notch to college and professional bareback riding. With support from those around him, Richmond learned the value of taking risks and not being afraid. Today, he looks back on the contributions that these people made in his life.
“I had great mentors who pushed me to not be afraid of falling off or riding the scariest horse in the world. They would tell me to just go and do it because I’ll thank myself later.” – Richmond Champion
He also learned that great things take time. There is no such thing as a shortcut, and training and practice are the only ways to go around his dream of being the best in the field. Later in his life, he used this experience to give advice to aspiring bareback riders to get on young horses so they can figure things out together. He would also urge them to ride it bareback and just focus on their balance.
Before graduating from high school, something happened that would change Richmond’s life. He went to a couple of rodeos and won around $4,000. With money in his pocket, he realized that he could make a living by riding these animals. A breakthrough finally hit him when he won another big tour in 2013.
“Winning that big rodeo tour, I realized that if I do it here, I can do it anywhere. I just got to find a way to duplicate what is working.” – Richmond Champion
Richmond’s consecutive wins built his confidence. The following year, he joined The American Rodeo. He won a million bucks, making him a part of rodeo history. In the same year, he ranked in the Cheyenne Frontier Days and by 2017 was the world’s second-best bareback rider. He took part in a rodeo show at Calgary Stampede. He’s currently taking part in one of his most significant achievements so far — the National Finals Rodeo (NFR).
The NFR is the World Series of Rodeo. It consists of ten rounds on ten consecutive days. Each rodeo athlete gets to ride one of the several but similar horses for the first two rounds. The third round, however, is an elimination. This year, Richmond got assigned to the Eliminator Bull called Killer Bee.
The Bull That No Man Can Ride
The phrase “bull that no man can ride” was coined from country singer Garth Brooks’s song of the same title. The song is believed to be a tribute to the American professional rodeo cowboy, Lane Frost. Frost died due to injuries sustained after a show when the bull’s horn struck him in the back, breaking several ribs and severing an artery.
“What most people do not know is we do not show up with a horse that we get to ride every single event. There are several horses that we draw from. They are all the same in the first and second rounds. But what comes next is the eliminator, and this year’s just terrifying. They call her Killer Bee, and she is known to be one of the harder, tougher horses to ride in the circuit. I’ve seen her take down four-time world champs and sports legends. When you see that even the best rodeo athletes buck off from Killer Bee, everything becomes a whole different ball game.” – Richmond Champion
To say that Richmond was afraid is an understatement. He knew how difficult it could be to ride a scary animal, but he is more worried of the mental war from learning about it the night before the show.
“The mental game can be nerve-wracking. It can make or break any rodeo athlete. You’re terrified and worried, but you got to figure out how you’re going to get some sleep so you can be ready for the long day ahead.” – Richmond Champion
Rodeo’s thrill thrives on the dangerous circumstances surrounding it. In a sport where one wrong move can be the difference between life and death, even a veteran athlete can buckle on his knees while looking at those scary horses. But this fear is just one of many.
“So you want that rank horse because riding it well will get you a lot of points. They’re entertaining to ride, which is a big flash factor that will help you get more points for the animal. Every guy has his own style, and even when you emulate the best, your scores are really up to the judge that day. There’s going to be days where you make a great ride, and they didn’t like it, and that’s just part of it. It’s a judged sport. You just got to get by them.” – Richmond Champion
Knowing that you are up against 14 of the toughest and the best athletes in the field is another Killer Bee. This can put someone with a weak mental state on edge. Though the kind of camaraderie among the men can be questioned by others, Richmond believes that the sports’ inherent danger keeps them together.
“Well, obviously, we want to beat each other every day. But knowing that every one of us shares the inherent risks makes us a family. We can ask each other for help. We get to dine together and have fun.” – Richmond Champion
Rodeo is one of the most dangerous sports, and many wonder what kind of courage or amount of preparation is needed to make it in a show. So imagine competing in the national finals, where athletes have to show up every single time for ten terrifying days in a row.
“When I’m faced with an internal struggle of whether I should show up or not, I always tell myself every time I come that it’s just another rodeo. It’s just like riding ten times in a row. There’s really no difference since I do it all summer long and over the country. … It’s a mind game. You need to overcome your self-doubt as tough as it may be. You need to trust what got you here, that it is the best you have done and can do. And that’s really difficult — finding that place of peace and satisfaction because there is always that little voice telling you that you could have done better.” – Richmond Champion
These are only some of the many difficulties that Richmond encounters in the sport of bareback riding. Yet he knows that he has the choice to turn them around into valuable lessons so he can win against these mental wars. The sport has many rough corners that he can use to change his mindset, so he can be mentally prepared in every ride.
“And if you ride, trust that you’re going to rise to the occasion because it’s going to do you no good to think and beat yourself up about how you’re going to do this tonight. When you’re getting on a bucking horse, you don’t know what it’s going to do. You may have an idea, but you just gotta do your job and trust that you’re here for a reason, and you deserve to be here. That’s the only answer.” – Richmond Champion
Richmond’s approach to preparing himself for bareback riding and all its mental wars seems so easy. However, it also shows the power of a changed mind turning difficulties into sources of inspiration and life lessons. If you always look at life’s challenges in a negative way, not only would you let them affect your performance, you will forever live a life of doubts, second-guessing, and mediocrity. Whatever path you choose, it will ultimately be yours to make.
How to Be Mentally Prepared for Life’s One Big Ride
Luckily for Richmond, he has someone like Paige Lawrence as a wife. Besides being an athlete herself, Paige also works as a mindset coach. She has been instrumental in keeping him optimistic about the battles he experienced as a world-class bareback rider.
“Paige would always advise me to avoid overthinking it. She reminds me to keep my eyes on the outcomes that I want and just forget about everything else. Hearing those would immediately make me feel better. Having her on my team is a success in itself. Since she’s been a part of my career in the last few years, I don’t get to make excuses. That is definitely a big part of my success.” – Richmond Champion
Having the right environment and tribe reminds Richmond about the importance of consistency, persistence, and patience in his chosen field and life in general. But with bareback riding compared to riding a Jackhammer with one hand, having a sense of just going with the flow versus resistance also makes a lot of difference.
“There are individual horses you have to get in a fight with by going with the flow and, and resisting it at the same time. The best rides are when you’re using the horse and fighting them, but you’re using their moment to help you. You’re just flowing with everything and loving it. But to do this, you have to get your brain out of the way. You need to stop thinking about anything else. Tell yourself to go rock and roll with it — no overdoing. Live in the present and enjoy the moment.” – Richmond Champion
Richmond and his wife loved golf. But upon moving to Montana, the bareback rider discovered that he has a love for fly fishing. He even bought a new drift boat to support his newly found passion.
“Obviously, fishing is fun, but there’s a mental aspect to it. That’s why I love it. That’s why I’m obsessed about it.” – Richmond Champion
Fly fishing taught Richmond another way for him to be prepared mentally for life’s wild ride. Taking time off from his usual routine helps him relax and get his mind off from the pressure of bareback riding. If this worked for him, it would definitely work for you too. Combining the importance of having a positive environment, enjoying what you do, and allowing yourself that chance to reset and recharge can prepare you for whatever surprise life might bring.
Why You Should Listen to This Richard Champion Podcast Episode Episode Right Now…
Guys, you need to start following this champ if you haven’t already. The simplicity and practicality of his insights were empowering, and I’m confident that if he could change his mindset and win over his mental wars, you can topple yours too.
If you’re finding value in Friday Bullpen Sessions in your business and life, please go to Apple Podcast and subscribe. Give it a five-star rating. Also, don’t forget to share this post with someone who needs to read it. Tag me, @andy_neary, and Richmond Champion, @richmondchampion, with a screenshot of your biggest takeaways on Instagram — I’d be extremely grateful! Old and new fans can also get daily updates and inspiration by following Richmond on Facebook.
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Remember that where confidence and clarity collide, action happens. Life is unpredictable, but anyone can find a way to ride it with style. Learn to roll with it and know that it’s never over until it’s over. Be flexible because things will not always go your way. Trust the process and enjoy! And take it from a bareback rider: Just keep your hands up!
Thanks for reading. Until next time, folks!