On a rainy day in October this past fall, World Champion header Clay Smith traveled to Ericson, Nebraska’s Pitzer Ranch to run a Win-A-Day Clinic, brought to you by ADM Animal Nutrition and The Team Roping Journal. The winner, 22-year-old Danielle Wray, invited a handful of friends to join, while a few dads committed their day to covering the heel side of the practice runs. Pitzer’s Jim Brinkman provided not only a dry indoor for a successful event, but numerous mounts for Smith, as well.
1) Identify Your Target
A header’s swing needs to be turned over on the outside of the right horn, so I want to exaggerate my swing on the outside to get more coverage until it becomes easier to come all the way across and cover both horns, especially on bigger-horned steers. It seems that on bigger horns, people try to rope the left horn and don’t get their swing over on the outside of the right and they’ll either split the horns or not catch the right horn. But if you’re turning your loop over far enough on the outside of the right horn, when you catch the right horn, there’s more power to send it across to the left horn.
2) Use Your Bottom Strand
In the delivery, use the bottom strand to go underneath the right horn. Also, keep your thumb up in your delivery and that will keep your loop opened up more. Those two things—keeping your thumb up and using your bottom strand to come under the right horn—will keep you from missing the right horn and allow you to drop your loop over the left.
3) Finish your Delivery
What I was trying to do right there is over-exaggerate finishing my delivery. My hand comes over the top of my rope all the way and my thumb rotates all the way down. Doing that gets the curl to come back and go around the back of the steer’s head. Then, try to avoid pulling your slack too soon. Instead, stay with the delivery and let your rope finish and it will make the loop go on better.
4) Know Your Left Hand’s Job
Wherever your left hand is at when you go to deliver your rope, your left hand has to shove underneath your right hand, which puts your slack right there in a place where you’re able to grab it.
5) Riding to the Delivery
So here, my butt’s out of the saddle and I’m up to the front of my saddle and my left hand comes up a little bit because I’m coming into the steer and I’m letting my horse know I’m about to make this throw. So I lift up a little with my left hand but, when I go to deliver, my left hand will go forward again. You don’t want to hang on the bridle the whole time. What you see in the picture here is me making a little contact because I’m coming in on a slower steer at a fast speed and I have to let the horse know I’m going to deliver.
Clay Smith: It was a really easy group to go over things with and the girls roped really good, as did the guys. I think everyone understood what we worked on. Hopefully, I didn’t mess them up too bad!
Danielle Wray: I thought that Clay was great with being able to break it down with not only your rope, but your horse, as well. We talked a lot about position and swing. The opportunity as a whole was great!