Ty "Blaster" Blasingame, known as a reacher, just missed making the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Blasingame spent most of the summer and fall roping with Rich Skelton, and he took time after the Pendleton Round-Up to answer our Facebook fans' questions. Visit facebook.com/spintowinrodeo to join in the discussion!
Charles Gregory Hamilton: How many horses are you competing on? And do you have one for the Thomas & Mack?
I have three right now that I'm competing on. I have a longer score horse (Spanky), a shorter score horse (Muley) and just a jackpot (Blacky) overall kind of horse that I can ride in different situations. I ride Muley in the Thomas & Mack, and he scores really well??--when I drop my hand he fires. He's really good in the walls and he keeps moving and he doesn't get quick with me ever.
Lisa Kesek: What characteristics do you look for when choosing your roping partner?
I look for partners that can do more than one thing. I look for a partner that can throw fast and on the other hand can be consistent. When we just have to catch to win, I want them to just catch. But, it's so fast anymore that the heeler has to be ready to set it down on the first or second hop every time. I like to make sure they're a little bit experienced and know where they're going and the set ups. Also, of course, they've got to have good horses. And I like to have a partner who is easy to get along. That means they don't get down on you if they mess up. We need to be a team and supportive in and out of the rig and arena. I've had some awesome partners, and I've learned that from the partners I've had. Cody Hintz, who I made the Finals with in 2010, was that way in every aspect. Rich knows how it goes and he never gets down on you, and that's how you've got to be to win. If they header or heeler is throwing a fit and you go to the next rodeo, that's still going to be on your mind. We have so many different scenarios we face, you've got to have a good partnership.
Abi Garate: How do you throw your loop so far?
That's hard to explain. There are a few different strategies I use on different set ups. Sometimes I feel like I've got to have my tip more in the air to have more send on it when the steers are really running out in front of you a long ways and maybe have their heads down a little. Most of the time I'm throwing two coils away and I like to just have everything flat and have an open swing. I have more of an area that can be covered, even if the steers might be ducking left or right. I've learned it since I was young--I reached and I reached and I reached. It's something you have to work at, and I practiced it a lot on the dummy. It has to be tight, you can't have a lot of slack out. The exact amount of coils I throw has to be measured out just right. People who don't reach too much will try and throw and extra coil and that puts too much slack on the steer, and then the handle is really rough for the heeler.
Josh Talseth: So how can you handle cattle on a long line and give the heeler a fair shot?
For that, I want it measured off tight so I can have the steer's head. I really use my horse a lot more than I used to. If your horse is ducking straight back, it's going to make the steer handle terrible. Your horse has to keep moving forward and be wide so you can get that steer's head. I like to get his head and keep my horse moving forward three or four strides, and as I'm moving forward, come up the arena a little bit so I can keep that steer's head the whole time.
Dennis Dorr: How do you keep your horse honest when you need to run up to one instead of reaching?
What I do in the practice pen on my good rodeo horses is that I do not turn off very many steers. I have my heeler go with me and then I reach and then keep moving my steer all the way down the arena. I've had horses that will never cheat me in the practice pen, so now even if I miss I just come across there and just reach every time and keep my horse running no matter what. I will go ahead and make a couple runs sometimes but I always finish my practice sessions reaching and running down the pen.