There are so many ways to mess up when you’re teaching your head horse to score. I see guys wanting to score on a light rein, a heavy rein—but in a perfect world, I like to put more pressure on my rein so there’s a clearer signal to the horse. Ultimately, though, I adjust my scoring to the horse. Each horse will let you know their preference on scoring, and I try to change the stuff I feel really strongly about but work around each horse in certain areas. People worry about being too light or too strong, but the most important thing is consistency in the box. Whatever you’re doing, however your horse needs ridden, you’ve got to stay consistent.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they think they understand this big head-horse move—making the horse drag it and get across the pen too early in the horse’s career where it affects the roper’s roping. If a horse makes that lateral move in the middle of your delivery, it’s the kiss of death. Everybody can love watching it from the stands, but those are the people who’ve never really ridden it. If you put that move in too early, to where their first step is out, with their ribs heading left, it’s one of the biggest mistakes people don’t even know they’re making.
I’ll watch horses go at the jackpot and think, ‘This is going to be a good horse,’ but then I’ll see him face. What I see most commonly is a header failing to make his horse finish his face and take it off the horn and allow the horse to move laterally. A bad face will starve you to death rodeoing. You can get away with a bad face at some jackpots, but not when hundreths of a second really count.
Trevor wants to answer your questions about roping & horsemanship. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in a future issue of The Team Roping Journal.