Koontz shares some tips to help heelers catch quicker and more consistent.

Balanced Riding

For a roper to catch more consistently and heel steers faster, you need to be riding your horse with proper weight in your stirrups to allow for better, faster position.

LESSON LEARNED

I’ve got to give credit here to Speed Williams. Dustin (Egusquiza) wanted to go to Speedy to learn about how to do a better job of jackpotting. I was there just to heel steers, when Speedy pointed out to Dustin that his feet were coming out of the stirrups from the first move his horse was making. And he told me he didn’t want in my business, and I hadn’t asked for his help, but he told me I was doing that, too.

WHAT IT MEANS

Though I’ve preached riding balanced for years, when Speedy pointed this out, it gave me a specific point to work on that I hadn’t thought of before. When your feet are in the right spot in your stirrups, and you’re properly balanced from the second you leave the box, you’re able to get your rope up and ride to position in a more controlled manner.

ACHIEVING BALANCE

Get your stirrups at a length that you can press down on the balls of your feet, pressing your toes down not to the point that your feet are behind you, and pressing your heels down not to the point your feet are in front of you. The goal should be that there’s no daylight between your foot and the bottom of your stirrup. You want your knees bent in an athletic position, because if your legs are too straight, you won’t be as agile in the saddle.

When you’ve got the right amount of weight in the stirrups, your knees should naturally roll in to allow you to ride balanced in your saddle. Standing up and getting to the front of your saddle is one of the worst things you can do, because that sets you off balance and will change your swing.

PRACTICE TIME

This should be something you work on when you’re riding inside or outside of the arena, when you’re roping the Smarty or practicing on live cattle. The more you practice this, the better you’ll get at having your swing up and ready as you come into the corner, because with a more balanced body, you’ll be able to control your arm position and swing.  

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