Superstitions are a funny thing.
Some people let them rule their lives, while others shrug them off like a pesky fly. Most of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo contestants I talked to Friday night fall into the second category, with even the well-known “Don’t put your cowboy hat on the bed” superstition holding less and less credence with the new generation.
Try as I might, I couldn’t find any contestants with wicked or debilitating superstitions, and some of them didn’t even realize it was Friday the 13th. I couldn’t help laughing when I asked two-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Cody Wright about superstitions.
“I wish I was more interesting, but I decided years ago that life is too short to be walking around cracks all the time,” Wright said.
The “hat on the bed” mantra doesn’t apply to him, either.
“I have so many kids, and the first thing they do when they come in the room is throw their hats on the bed,” said Wright, the father of five. “I’d be buying hats all the time if I went by that (superstition).”
Being a big fan of the “Friday the 13th” slasher movies, I wanted to talk to steer wrestler Jason Miller, the 2007 world champion, since he was the only cowboy named Jason. Considering he’s had a Finals in which he has only earned two checks, I thought he might want to mimic his namesake Jason Voorhees from the movies, don a hockey mask and start chasing people with a knife.
But, he was calm and collected – while still being highly frustrated – when I found him in the Justin SportsMedicine Room getting some heat on his right shoulder before Round 9.
“It is what it is,” said Miller, who has fallen from fourth to 11th in the world because of his tough week. “You have some good weeks and bad weeks, but there’s still a lot of money left. A guy still needs to stay positive.”
Miller, who said he’s not much of a horror movie fan, was hoping the Friday the 13th occurrence would help him in his quest to win another check.
“It’s Friday the 13th, and a lot of people are superstitions, but I’m not,” he said. “I’m not, so I’m probably going to win something tonight.”
Alas, his 5.0-second run left him out of the money yet again.
Miller also believes luck is something a person can control.
“You create your own luck by the way you approach life in general,” Miller said. “You can say you were unlucky, but no. If you think you’re not going to do well, you’re probably not going to do well.”
Miller’s peer, Hunter Cure, said he’s only allowed himself to be caught up in the superstition game once.
“I’m not a superstitions guy at all, however my mother-in-law set my hat on the bed here in 2009,” he said. “Every time I wore that hat from there on out, I never could seem to get the ball rolling in the right direction. So, for the Canadian Finals at the first of November, I had me a little ceremony and had a hat barbecue outside.
“Since then, the ball’s been rolling in the right direction.”
Bareback rider Steven Peebles said he tends to go against the grain when it comes to superstitions.
“I try to do the opposite,” he said before finishing third in Round 9 with an 81.5-pointer. “If there’s something everybody’s scared of, I’ll go grab it and try it.”
Bullfighter Dusty Tuckness didn’t plan it this way, but was wearing the same shirt on Friday the 13th that he was wearing last year when he was knocked unconscious at the Wrangler NFR.
Barrel racer Michelle McLeod has been wearing back No. 13 all rodeo long, and she hasn’t let her be a jinx. McLeod has three cashes through nine rounds and hasn’t minded wearing the often-feared number on her back, even after tipping over the third barrel on her run in Rond 9.
“It didn’t bother me to have 13 at all, and I was hoping tonight was going to be my night being Friday the 13th and having back No. 13,” said McLeod, a Wrangler NFR rookie. “But, it didn’t work. I’d be fine with back No. 13 next year, yes.”
So, Voorhees can take his woods-lurking self back to Camp Crystal Lake, because ProRodeo cowboys and cowgirls are having none of it. In fact, they might even book their summer vacations there next year.