Ask the Pros – A Shy Heel Horse

Dear Richard,
I have a 4-year-old Hancock/Peponita gelding that I broke as a 2-year-old and have been roping on in the round pen since the winter he turned three. He is very cowy and I have done things slowly. Since I have finished my pen at home late this summer, I have tracked and broke away roped many steers out of the head box to get him to rate and be settled while tracking. He is doing all of this great. However, I would like to be able to heel on this horse, and every time I have someone turn a steer in front of him, he shies away and won’t go to position. This horse is definitely not scared of cattle, in fact, many times I have to hold him from biting the cattle while tracking them, but whenever I try to track into one that has been headed in front of me, he sets up in the corner, props on his right front, and tries to duck away. I think he may be scared of the head rope stretching out where he can see it. This will be a nice horse, but I am getting frustrated. Any suggestions?
Lee, Owensboro, Ky.

Dear Lee,
Try getting somebody to rope the steer at the back end of the arena and act like a big pivot. Let that steer go in a big circle around the header. Just make the horse go in several circles over and over. Make him go at that steer while being turned at the back end of the arena. Make the header keep his rope on him and turn him however many times it takes for the horse to get comfortable. Rather than coming out of the box on him, take him to the back of the arena and do that until he gives it up.
Richard Durham

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