Broc Cresta’s Tips for Heeling Behind a Neck Catch

Q:Dear Broc,
It doesn’t happen often, but the other day my header had a neck catch. I had a lot of trouble being prepared to throw with a handle that isn’t as controlled as a horn catch handle. What do you do when you see a neck catch in order to give yourself a chance at a fast/high percentage shot? With a normal handle, I usually rope two feet pretty fast, but I want to be prepared (and fast) in every situation.

Tom, Laramie, Wyo.

A: When I see that Logan got a good start and had to reach but didn’t get a clean catch-got him around the neck-I know the steer is going to handle a lot stronger and have a whip to him and not square up like he would if he was roped around the horns.

I don’t want to get myself stuck having only one shot to throw, so I stay away from him as much as I can. I want to hold my position until I make sure he’s going to hop away from me clean, and then I go to him and heel him.

Right now I know I can’t get too wide because I don’t want him to jerk him away from me. Logan is trying to handle him fast because we’re trying to be fast. With a neck catch, steers will whip around that corner, but then they don’t go anywhere like they would if they were roped around the horns. They’re going to switch out, stall for a second and then most of the time take a real big hop away from you. I try to set myself up for when he takes that first initial big hop to heel him.

As soon as he cleaned up where I knew it was legal for me to heel him, I took my first shot and this is the steer coming down out of that first hop. My horse, Lynx, fits my style: I like to throw a lot faster than maybe I should sometimes. He’s pretty tight coming around there and it keeps me hustling and keeps me feeling like I need to keep my roping pretty sharp.

As the run ends, stuff is moving away from you a lot faster. When they get them around the neck, they lose a lot of control. Headers do as good a job as they can, but when they get them around the neck, as heelers we know that they’re just not going to be as controlled. Like right there, I heeled him and everything was happening fast and I fumbled my wraps a little bit. I just tried to stay calm and make sure I got a clean wrap the second time and it all just kind of worked out.

The only thing a neck catch is going to affect is me getting my wraps. As soon as I get the run stopped, facing and finishing the run is just as easy for a header with a neck catch as it is with a horn catch.

It ended up stopping at 4.7 and we split the win in the second run.

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