Ask the Pros with Michael Jones

Rope Selection
Dear Michael,
I am 14 years old and starting to learn how to heel. I’m wondering what the best rope for me would be?
Thanks a lot,
Ryan, Queen Creek, Ariz.

Dear Ryan
I would suggest a Powerline Lite medium soft or medium. At 14, you’re probably not strong enough to swing a really stiff rope. That will teach you how to place that rope in there a little better if you use a little softer one to practice and learn.

Go Left
Dear Michael,
What would be some advice for a left-handed person wanting to begin roping as a heeler?
Andres, Eagle Pass, Texas

Dear Andres,
The most important thing a left-hander can do is learn position. Everything’s pretty much set up for a right-handed heeler. So to be a good left-handed heeler you need to really work on your position and how you enter the corner and being a solid horseman will go a long way. Take more time to make sure you go all the way around the corner so that you don’t ever get blocked off and out of position coming into the steer too early.

Better Horse, Worse Dallies
Dear Michael,
I just bought a new horse and he is a better horse than my other one. I’m having a hard time getting my dallies, but I’m roping two feet every time. Please give me some tips.
Trenton, Elko, Nev.

Dear Trenton,
I would take this horse that you’re having trouble with into the practice pen and concentrate on not making your dally an abrupt move. Practice heeling and keeping that horse moving so he doesn’t think that right when you throw he has to stop and die off. It’s something I do even with my good horses. Just heel and keep them moving and then let them stop moving rather than making them stop. A horse doesn’t always have to stop all at once. It will also help keep momentum coming through the corner if you’ll stay just a touch wider where your horse will have a chance to come in straight behind the steer instead of coming in too early and cutting him off and causing him to lose his momentum. That will help keep your horse from stopping too abruptly, which should make it easier for you to get your dallies.

Handles for Heelers
Dear Michael,
I have been heading for about five years and have become pretty good at it, but I want to know, from a heeler’s perspective, what is the best way to handle a steer?
Best Regards,
Alex, Alberta, Canada

Dear Alex,
I think one of the most important things for me heeling-and things I’ve noticed doing schools-is that headers need to keep the steer in tow. A lot of guys will rope and turn the steer and then let the steer’s head loose or let the steer be on a free rope. As a heeler, I want to come around there and know that the steer is being towed away from me so I have a definite spot to ride to.

Keeping Position
Dear Michael,
I have a three-year-old horse that I’m heeling off of. He is very cowy, but sometimes when he’s cow’n he will turn his head and move me out of position. I’ve tried tracking until he straightens out, and I’ve also tried shortening the rein on my right side, but there has to be a better way. Please let me know what you think.
Thanks for the advice,
Zaq, Steelville, Mo.

Dear Zaq,
One thing that I try to do is give my horse more room in the corner to come in straight behind the steer. If he’s turning his head and getting you out of position, you might be riding too tight. That would cause a horse to slow down and lose momentum and be on track to step out of position. If you leave your horse eight to 10 feet wide as you go down the arena, then as you enter the corner that will allow him the room to keep his momentum and come in straight behind the steer.

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