I am riding a colt that I am trying to get started heeling, and every time my header eases the steer out my horse likes to float way past the corner. What is the best thing for me to do about that?
Tyler, Conway, Ark.
The best way to keep your colt from floating by the corner is to start by softening his mouth up. Ride him in a lighter bit-we use a ring snaffle when we soften them up-that way when you pull on them, they’ll respond. Then when you start roping, keep him farther back and wider and let the steer hit. When he makes the full corner you’ve got a little bit of distance and you can keep your horse moving toward the steer. That way there’s never a pause there, if your horse is going to float by the corner, 90 percent of the time he’ll do it when there’s a pause.
Great Wide Open
How wide should I ride on a fast running steer so that I can make my corner better?
Garrett, Hyde Park, Utah
The best way to ride shape on a fast running steer is to keep your horse’s head at about the steer’s flank or hips if you can, and probably about three or four feet wide. That’s the way I like to ride, but I ride tighter than a lot of people do. I’ve found that’s the best way for me to get a shot on a fast running steer.
A New Level
How do I step up my game? I’m kind of stuck in the 10 to nine-second hole and I want to be in the seven to six hole. How do I make everything faster?
Rusty, Anthony, N.M.
The best way to step your game up is to watch the steer’s legs and learn how to get in perfect time with the steer. Watch the steer’s legs going down the arena and you’ll be in time with the steer going down the arena-that much earlier in your run. When that steer makes his legal turn, you’ll be in time with him already and you can rope him automatically faster. You’ve got to refine your timing. That’s the best way to rope and to move your times from the nine and 10 holes to the six and seven holes. If you’re in timing with the steer when he switches, you can rope him right away instead of waiting until he switches to get your timing.
Mix It Up
Is it OK to head and heel in the practice pen?
A.J., Brookland, Texas
I think it’s fine to head and heel in the practice pen. I think whatever your strong end is-when you do the opposite-it just makes it more fun and more relaxing when you go back to the other end. It’s a great idea to do both ends. I just love to rope, so heading relaxes me.
Get the Ball Rolling
What kind of advice would you give the beginning roper? What steps do you think I need to take to get the ball rolling?
Mike, Tampa, Fla.
The best thing to do as a beginner roper to get the ball rolling is to find a mentor. Find somebody who can help you work on your horsemanship. Horsemanship is a major part of team roping. Once you get that worked on, it just makes your heeling that much better. A lot of beginners are having trouble riding and getting control of their horse, so if you can get the horsemanship part of it and get a mentor to help you rope, too, that’s the best way to get started.
Timing is Everything
I’m a No. 4 heeler and can rope cattle 50 percent of the time. I have a problem with my timing. When I’m out of timing with the steer I know it, but can’t seem to get in timing to finish the run. What would be a good way to learn to time the steer before
making the corner so I don’t have to try to adjust after I have made the corner?
Greg, Barnsdall, Okla.
To get your timing better, instead of watching the header, look at his legs and pick the timing up right there. Like I told Rusty above, if you can pick the timing up going down the arena, as long as the header doesn’t break the steer real hard and give you a real hard switch, the timing won’t change and you can pick it up faster. When you’re watching the legs as you go down the arena, you usually set yourself up and put yourself in shape to get a better shot anyway.