Two years ago, Herbert Theriot, the 1994 world tie-down roping champion who narrowly missed claiming rodeo's ultimate prize in 1998 the world all-around crown made a decision he hoped he wouldn't regret.
It was time to slow down. He was 35, had a wife who wanted to attend nursing school and a young son who missed him.
So instead of going down the trail for a 17th season, Theriot pulled back the reins and decided to make rodeo, and his personal goals, far less important. It was time for his family to become his No. 1 priority.
And every day since then, he has been a happier man for it.
"My life has changed," said Theriot, a 10-time Wrangler NFR qualifier in tie-down roping with two others in steer wrestling. "It was all about me, and everything we did was for me. Now, it's for the kids and I enjoy that. I get more nervous for my little boy's rodeos."
These days, Theriot sporadically competes close to his home in Poplarville, Miss. Last weekend, he returned from a four-month layoff in winning form at the Washington Parish Free Fair Rodeo in Franklinton, La. Theriot turfed a pair of steers in 7.7 seconds, good for the title and $1,553.
More importantly, it proved this all-around hand can still to it, but don't expect a return to the rodeo road anytime soon.
"It felt good to go back," Theriot said. "It makes you think you still might have a little bit of it … I miss it a little. When I watch the NFR on television, I'll probably get to missing it then, but when it's over and you think about missing your kids and being gone for two or three weeks at a time, you don't miss it as much."
Instead, Theriot enjoys staying home with Marcus, 7, and Mason, 1. His wife, Renee, used to race barrels but now is only one year away from graduating from nursing school.
Theriot has made the transition from full-time rodeo cowboy to Mr. Mom and jack-of-all-trades quite nicely. Let's just say he's not bored.
He went to auctioneering school, does a little bulldozing work for his father-in-law and spends the rest of his time bailing hay, raising bucking bulls and producing rodeos.
That, and watching Marcus rope at junior rodeos.
"I hope to one day put on rodeo schools and put on rodeos," he said. "It's a good feeling to know you helped somebody. You watch and they win, and they used what you taught them. I enjoy that a lot."
Winning in Franklinton put a little fire under Theriot, and he dropped small hints that he maybe hasn't rid himself from all his competitive days as a roper and bulldogger.
"I've been riding a bulldogging horse from Alfalfa Feddersen, and it's been real good lately," Theriot said. "I really don't want to rodeo hard enough to make the Finals, but if I have a good winter, I shouldn't have to rodeo that hard to make the finals.
"But I can't stay gone from my wife and kids. I've been in rodeo all my life and my family is the best supporters I've ever had … I'm having a good bit of fun doing what I'm doing now. It takes a lot to go off and rodeo."
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