Kory Koontz has set the bar high for heeling and horsemanship over the last two decades. Roping with Erich Rogers, he finished last year seventh in the World Standings, and they’ve already battled into the top 15 for 2012. We caught up with Koontz to ask him your questions. If you’d like to have a pro answer your question next month, visit facebook.com/spintowinrodeoand join in the discussion.
Kaid Panek: You have roped with some guys that were up and comers, like Erich Rogers and Colby Lovell. What qualities do you look for in a partner, especially when taking a risk and roping for somebody that isn’t a household name?
I guess first and foremost is just recognizing the talent. If I don’t see the talent there that you know has to be there to be successful, then there’s no taking the chance. There are a lot of good young guys that you just don’t see that over-and-above talent level. They’re good guys, they work hard, the whole deal. But without that natural talent and roping ability, then it’s going to be a struggle. You can develop the rest. The rest is more manmade: how to win, how to think. You just don’t create God-given ability. It doesn’t matter what I’ve got to bring to the team. I can’t manufacture that.
Charles Gregory Hamilton: Over your professional career, how many horses have you ridden, and what has been your best horse?
I’ve had four main horses. Iceman, Jackel, Switchblade, and L.B. Iceman was the best. And the reason I think so is because of all of the different situations I was ever in, he was great at all of them. There was really no weakness. When I had him in my career, I wasn’t as smart a roper and I didn’t ride as good then. I didn’t know as much about horsemanship. He basically overcame all of that and was great. I’ve learned a lot about riding and how to do things, and that helped make these other horses really good.
Megan Lunak: How challenging was it to overcome losing your thumb and regaining confidence in your roping and dallying?
Really and truly, I don’t even remember it. I did it when I was 8-years-old. I wasn’t competing when I lost it. There wasn’t really anything to overcome. When a kid decides to do something, he just does it, and there’s no looking back. I don’t remember what it was like to rope with a thumb. I didn’t have to do what Jake did and overcome it. I don’t know what it would be like to have it as far as roping and dallying.
Kassi Hill Beshirs: Will there ever be another horse like Iceman or is it true that we get that one horse like that in our lifetime?
You know, as far as his exact talent and the things he did so natural and was so good at, none of the other horses have been quite like that. Do you only get one great one? I don’t think so. The other three horses I’ve had are great horses. Just individually really, really good. And if you just look back over all the really good hroses in the PRCA over the last 50 years, I’ve had four of them. Will there be another Iceman? No, I don’t think so. He was an individually great horse that did things that I’ve never felt another horse do. I’ve been on other horses of the year that just felt so natural that just got around and got in the right spot. You could try to put him in the wrong spot and he’d figure out to get around and get in the right spot again so you could catch.
Jared Rowley: I have a 4-year-old that works really good for me. Is it too soon to take him to the jackpots and rodeos? If so, when is a good time to start?
That’s a deal that’s kind of an each horse individually. Without knowing what the horse is, I would say that’s too young. His mind and body needs to mature more to get to the point to where he’s ready for that competition and ready for you to ask for his life and him be able to give it to you without any setbacks or get him to the point where he is sick of it. That being said, Iceman was 4-years-old when I was hauling him around. But he just happened to be mature. I really do think that 4 is too young but I do think there are exceptions to the rule. I have a colt right now that I want to jackpot on when he’s 6. That’s the age I think he’ll be mature and developed that he’s going to be ready to take it by then.
Josh Fleury: How do you stay aggressive with slow and even cattle?
I think on slow cattle that the way I stay aggressive is knowing that the slower the steer moves, the harder it is to time them. The slower the steer moves, the slower you want to go, and that makes your horse go slower and that kills your momentum and it puts you at a disadvantage because the steer is going to hop slow. So in order for me to stay aggressive, if I make sure and speed my swing up I can keep my horse’s stride quick and still get into the right spot. So on a slow hop I’m not going so slow with my swing that I’m going to throw it at the steer’s side and disappear. I want my horse still moving into him so I can get my loop right there and not get behind timing wise.
Brandon Noel: Besides live steers, what’s your favorite form of practice?
I think the best thing besides live steers is a Hot Heels. There’s a lot of things you can do for a young horse, an older horse, a horse that just needs a job, and for horsemanship for yourself. The machine is good enough that it makes you work on your timing and work on throwing a good loop. In some cases, it’s even better than live steers. That’s not to say you can totally replace live steers, but with the machine, you can create good habits and create good riding and good horsemanship and mechanics, all of those things you’re going to need to overcome what you get when you rope live steers.