Ask The Pros with Bobby Harris

Speed Handles
Dear Bobby,
I have been roping for about a year and I am really happy with my progress, I am starting to get consistent. I am on a great horse and everything is falling into place. I just needed some advice on one area, though. How fast is too fast? When I turn a steer I have a hard time judging the proper speed to go. I don’t want the steer to leave the hole and be out of sight, but I don’t want to go too slow and give my heeler a hard time.
Tyler, Delta, Ohio

Dear Tyler,
The main thing when handling a steer is you have to take the tempo he is going down the arena and adjust accordingly when he turns off. If he’s running real fast, you have to slow the steer down when you turn off so that when he goes across the arena he’s jumping and not running, which makes it easier to catch for the heeler. When you have a slow steer you can just take that speed that he’s going right there and take him into the corner at that pace. The whole idea is to keep your eye on that steer and make sure he’s jumping and not running or swinging at the end of the rope. You’re pulling him and he’s jumping and it’s a rhythm for the heeler.

Short on Steam?
Dear Bobby,
I have an older horse that I know is really fast. He was that way when I bought him. I have noticed lately that he has softened up and isn’t running as hard. Any tips on tuning him? Thanks a lot.
Brad, Fort Worth, Texas

Dear Brad,
With an older horse, there are a couple things you want to check to make sure he’s feeling good. Make sure he’s not off his feed a little bit and that he’s not sore and he’s cheating you because it’s hurting him somewhere when he’s running. The other thing is that horse may have adjusted to the way you rope. He may be rating off a little bit because you like to rope a little further back. Or as you’re coming to cattle, he learns he needs to rate off a little bit. Don’t mistake rate for a horse slowing down. But be sure to make sure he feels good and isn’t sore.

Who to Head For
Dear Bobby,
What do you look for in a heeler? Is personality a factor or should you find the best heeler you can?
Riley, Snowflake, Ariz.

Dear Riley,
Catching two feet is the most important thing. When you’re looking for someone who can heel you want someone who has a good handle with a rope and a good feel for timing. If someone has good rhythm and timing with a steer, they’re probably going to catch a high percentage. Personality doesn’t make a big difference to me because everyone’s personality is different. You want an upbeat person-you don’t need someone bringing negativity in. The mechanics, technique and horsemanship are more important.

Face Time
Dear Bobby,
I have been roping a little over a year, I have an outstanding horse, and things are starting to happen. One question I have, though, is about facing. Sometimes I have a little trouble facing too early, or even pulling too hard and facing too late. What key signals should I look for to tell me when to actually face my horse?Thanks,

Dear Ty,
There are two things. One, get your horse on a log and practice pulling and then as you get ready to face, get him sidepassing so when you ask him to face he has no trouble switching his front end and hind end around. Get him to where he knows your cue when you want it. The second cue is watching the steer as you’re pulling him and your heeler throws. When he catches, that’s your cue as he starts to drag his slack. Your horse needs to be sidepassing, but keep pulling, so you can get ready to face.

Split Decision
Dear Bobby,
When I’m heading, my horse will ride into perfect position, but I either split the horns or send the rope right under the right horn. This just started happening. What am I doing?
Chantz, Pittsburg, Texas

Dear Chantz,
When you split the horns, you’re throwing at the right horn. You need to rope both horns at the same time. So as a practice technique, take a water bucket and put on the heading dummy and throw at the water bucket all at once and see how the rope goes over the horns-it’ll cover both horns at the same time. Everyone thinks you rope right horn, left horn, but if you look at every video you take, you’ll see that the rope goes over both horns at once. More and more guys are teaching that you rope both horns at the same time, which is great.

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