Covering Both Horns on Hard Running Horses

Diane Andrus, from Arnaudville, Louisiana, is a 3 header who came to rope with me at my place in Lipan, Texas, thanks to my sponsors at Roper Apparel & Footwear. Diane was a school teacher who spent most of her life supporting her daughter and her students. But, now that she’s retired, she’s ready to take her roping to the next level. Her horses are great, and they run really hard. So we spent the day working on her getting ready to rope sooner and covering both horns in her delivery to up her catch percentage. On these next pages, I’ll show you some of the drills we did to help accomplish that.

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1) We started out by adjusting the distance between Diane’s hands. She doesn’t feed her rope–which, honestly, is just fine–so we’ve got to get the right balance between her hands from the start. If you have too much between your hands, you’ll want to rope from farther back. But on hard-running horses like Diane rides, that isn’t always the position you end up in. Ideally, you’ll have an arm’s length in between your hands. Meaning, if you put the coils in the middle of your chest and stick your right arm out, it will be tight.

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2) Once we got Diane’s loop balanced, we worked on the dummy. On hard-running horses that put you close to the steer, you’ve got to finish across the left horn more than on horses that let you reach–otherwise, you’ll split the horns. You’ve got to carry your top strand across both horns when you’re that close to the steer. To practice this, I had Diane stand with her right foot on the Smarty just to be sure she was as close as she’d be on her horse.

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Diane Andrus, a retired educator from Louisiana, was chosen to spend a day with Clay Tryan, sponsored by Roper apparel. Her daughter and husband joined her on her day with Tryan at his Lipan, Texas, home. Out of nearly 800 entries, this is her winning letter:

I am a recently retired educator with 33 years experience in the classroom, which includes being a coordinator of a program for at-risk middle- and high-school students who were not successful in the traditional classroom setting. Also, for the last 20 years, I have hauled my daughter to junior high, high school, and college rodeos, where she competed primarily in breakaway roping and goat tying. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed my career and supporting my daughter, at 56 years old, I wanted to focus on team roping. In short, it is my turn! I am currently competing in local jackpots, USTRC, and World Series of Team Roping qualifiers, in which I have qualified for the #8 Finale in Las Vegas.

A day with Clay Tryan would provide me with an opportunity to work at being a solid header. I want to have a consistent delivery, read and handle cattle so that my heelers have an opportunity to catch, and improve on my horsemanship. I currently ride an 11-year-old gelding who previously had several areas of concerns in the roping pen, but is now a solid head horse that has cow, speed, and a good handle. I also have a talented backup horse that I could bring with me for the day with Clay.

My goals as a team roper begin with being confident and catching my cattle for my heelers. I want to be successful in the short go so that I can pay for my expenses along with qualifying for finals events. I believe spending a day with Clay will help me to attain these goals due to his ability to win at the pro level, rope with his family at sanctioned events, and coach his children in the roping pen.

Diane

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3) When working from this close to the steer, we had to be sure Diane wasn’t getting her right hand too low, too soon. Your index finger controls your top strand, so if you drop your index finger over the horns too soon, your top strand will split the horns.

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4) Another challenge on a hard-running horse is pushing your hand too far forward through your delivery. The closer you are to a steer, the more you have to throw across, rather than forward. If you push your loop too much ahead, it’s going to go over the horns instead of across and onto the horns. Sometimes, you can get away with throwing too far forward, but most times not.

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5) Finally, when you’re horseback, you’ve got to get your rope up and start your swing sooner so you’re ready to throw before your horse gets too close to the steer. If your horse gets to the steer before you’re ready to throw, you’ll get tighter and tighter and feel pressured to throw a loop that doesn’t cover both horns. Getting your swing started sooner will help you build the momentum to throw as soon as you hit your sweet spot, distance-wise.

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