Rate is a good thing to talk about considering the race horses I ride. People don’t often think of race horses having rate, but when trained and ridden correctly, they can rate with the best of them.
The bigger the motor your horse has, the more time you have to take. I try to let him know what I’m asking first—tracking a slow steer or burro or a sled. Any time the horse starts not watching the steer, you have your ATV driver let up. Let him make a mistake, then correct him. People micromanage rate and never give their horses a chance to figure it out themselves.
One thing you can’t do on a horse with a big motor is pull on him a lot. Horses like that are already pushing on the gas, so you can’t always be riding the brakes, or the brakes burn out. People will typically add more bridle, and that has a short shelf life, too. I like to stay out of my horse’s face, and I just bump him lightly. I like to wait until he goes by the rate spot, then I correct him. I don’t want it to be dramatic. I want him to know this is where I want him, and as long as he does that, I’ll stay out of his face. Always pulling on a horse is a key thing that keeps him from staying soft and understanding what you’re telling him.
The horse I’m riding here, he’s so fast—by Inseparable, and out of a mare that’s a daughter of First Down Dash—that he will run until I throw my rope. A horse like that, I’ll try to set it up so I reach a coil. That way, he has time, because he needs more time to see that he needs to rate and get collected. I try to rope half a coil or a coil away. It’s easier for him; he’s less likely to panic and go by his spot.
Teaching rate has taken longer with the horse I’m riding in the above photo because he’d already been roped on some when I got him. He was a little different. The horses I start, rate is one of the first things I put in them, and that comes in part from the cutting training they get. It’s so important because they learn it before there’s ever any speed added.