December 5-14, 2024


Kelsie Domer – No Excuses

Sep 22, 2023

Kelsie Domer – No Excuses

Kelsie Domer is a fierce competitor. 

Just ask any of her fellow breakaway ropers. 

            “Looking at the breakaway roping, I think Kelsie Domer has the best mental game of any of us,” said Lari Dee Guy. “You can tell that she really works at it.” 

            That’s high praise coming from the legendary cowgirl who has earned nine world titles in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) and qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping (NFBR) for the past three years. 

Kelsie Domer during the 2021 National Finals Breakaway Roping. | WPRA photo by Joe Duty

            Kelsie made the trip to Las Vegas to compete at the NFBR in 2021. She’ll be back this year. With two weeks left in the regular season, she is in 7th place and just won the title at the Ellensburg Rodeo adding nearly $7,000 to her earnings. She also has nine world titles in the WPRA, four in the all-around category, three breakaway and two in the tie-down roping. 

            She comes by her competitive nature and love for roping naturally. Her parents were both athletes and team ropers. Kelsie and her brothers all played basketball and ran track in high school. Her brothers also played football. They also grew up farming and ranching learning early the value of hard work.

            A rodeo scholarship from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford saw her moving two hours away from home to take her competition to the next level and continue her education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, her master’s in sports management and qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo three times. She also walked on to play basketball and did that until an ankle injury took her out. 

One year after her final graduation, she returned to her alma mater where she served as the assistant coach for a stint. Every bit of it has been steps taken to give her the opportunity to do what she loves and compete at the highest level. 

            “I’ve always been competitive,” she said. “I want to do the very best I can, no matter what I’m doing. And I’ve always felt like if I’m not doing that it’s probably not worth my time. If I’m spending the money to rodeo, do it for a living and to feed my family, I’m going to stay motivated to do the best I can and stay at the top, or I’m going to do something else. I also want to enjoy doing it.”

            “We (breakaway ropers) have always been motivated to win and compete. We haven’t been at it for years and years like some of the other events, so we have had to learn. You have to accept that the all-night drives, misses and broken barriers and all of the potential problems are part of it, then be proud and grateful that you are in that situation and have that opportunity.” 

            Like everyone else in rodeo she has had slumps. She works at breaking down her runs and finding one thing that she can do better to help her improve. 

            “Too many times if something doesn’t go our way, we try to fix everything. Yet, we don’t really know what the actual problem was. Instead, I try to stand back, figure out the problem and then fix that in place of panicking and trying to fix everything at once. I’ve learned in the last couple of years if something goes wrong, I need to focus and figure out where is it starting and fix that instead of looking at the end result.”

Kelsie Domer is all smiles after winning the 2023 Ellensburg Rodeo in Washington on Labor Day. | PRCA photo by Hoot Creek Photography.

            Learning how to recognize and break down a problem started when she was competing in local playdays as a youth. It helped that her parents were real with their children too. 

            “I’ve always been that way, and my parents have instilled it in me. They never put up with excuses. Excuses don’t get you anywhere. If you are going to lie to yourself or if you don’t truly accept what you need to fix, it’s not going to help you anyway. That’s where you might as well be real and honest. If you can accept what is wrong, then you can get to work on it.”

            That also means practicing with intention. She sets practice goals that she works on every day and they may be small, but they are big steps towards her success. And she’s not afraid to revamp them along the way. 

            “When I start a practice, I have something that I am going to focus on, whether it be roping the dummy or working with a young horse. When that task is complete, I move onto the next one. If I rope the dummy 15 times perfectly and you rope the dummy 100 times left-handed, who is going to have the best result? The people that know what to work on, continue to work on it and how to manage are the people who are going to win for a long time.” 

            The objectives of rodeo events never change. The setups and the livestock are always variables. The luck of the draw has an impact in every single event. How a competitor focuses on that can change the tone of their competition as well. 

            “I don’t worry about the draw. I’m aware of it and what I need to do,” she said. “Sometimes people are beat before they have even nodded their head. They’ve talked themselves out of winning before they have given themselves a chance to do any good. I can’t change the way a calf runs. I’m going to go at it like that calf is the best in the pen. I know if I go at him like he’s the worst one, I won’t have a chance anyway. I might as well go at him like he’s the best and give myself a chance.

 “In most of our runs, we have two seconds to react,” she explained. “You have to trust that you have practiced enough, you are going to score good, ride your horse good no matter where you are at and react. It seems crazy, but it’s what we do.”

Learning, enjoying the process and never making excuses are part of Kelsie’s everyday life. She reads books, listens to podcasts and is constantly searching for ways to improve her mental game. 

New mom Kelsie Domer won the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo last February to help set her on the path to qualify for her second Wrangler National finals Breakaway Roping. | FWSSR Photo by James Phifer.

            “I always want to learn about the mind and how it works,” she added. “I’m not going to think things are set in stone in any situation. I want to keep learning and growing. I’ve read a lot of books and some of them seem like they are repeating each other. And, they might be. Every single time I’ve read a new book, I’ve taken something away from it.” 

            Last year was a defining year for Kelsie and a testament to her mental strength. She and her husband Ryan were expecting their first child. She roped through her sixth month of the pregnancy. Then when their daughter Oaklynn was born August 22nd with just six weeks left in the regular season. She waited until her doctor said she could start competing. She had a Cesarean section for the delivery of their child. She finished the season five spots out of the top 15. 

            “Of course I wanted to go back (to the NFBR), but last year was different,” she said. “Even though I didn’t make it, I was okay with it, because I knew that I had done my best and I got to bring a kid into the world.”

            Kelsie won the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo last February, but the real star was Oaklynn. And it’s likely that as she grows up, her parents will show her the value of hard work, encourage her to do better and never make excuses.