I believe roping is like school—with grade levels that we can't skip if we want to succeed.
When I work with students in lessons or at clinics, I start with horsemanship before I ever move on to roping.
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We have to figure out how to make our horses operate the way we need them to in order to win. I'm always looking at people's bits, how their tie-down is adjusted and how their gear fits their horse. Next, I watch them warm up. You can tell a lot by how a roper warms up—do they need to soften their horse in the bridle more when they rope? Do they need to lope more?
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2. Ground Work
Ropers spend a lot of time roping slower cattle with a short barrier—meaning they're roping on the gain all the time. So I like to make sure my students have that down first. I like to start with a big set of horns on the dummy, up close. We will do a lot of ground work on that. Then, I'll make sure we've got the correct swing and delivery, then work from there.
3. In the Box
Horsemanship is the biggest focus of my schools, so we'll address any box issues. So often, people rope behind the World Series barrier and don't make their horses stand in the box, so we spend a lot of time just focusing on how we're riding our horses again. If your horse is rearing or lunging out of the box, you can't get much further, so we'll address that.
4. In the Field
From there, you've got to be able to run to the hip and catch the steer. So we'll work on that before anything else. Once we master that, we'll work on roping from a coil away, then two coils—but prioritizing handling the steer. We'll work on roping and controlling the steer's momentum.
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