I’ve been roping with Speed Williams a lot lately, and he’s been focusing on making me use my horse more, taking higher-percentage shots and making controlled, 5.0-second runs all day. I know that no matter who you are, you can always have a lot to work on, and you can learn something. I need help jackpotting, and with Speed helping me, when I watch videos from the Finals I see so many things in my roping that make me angry at myself. Right now, I wish we could try again at the NFR tomorrow, but we have to wait. So, in the meantime, I’m going to be working on these five points I describe in this article to get me back there with a better chance than ever.
1) I’m spending more time practicing for the horse, mainly, instead of myself. I’m not just making runs. And that starts in the corner. Speed has had me use a lot tighter rein in the corner. He’s got me pulling on my horse more, to get more tension on the bridle and give him something to leave off better. I’ve been playing around with bits, going down to a way lighter bit so I can pull a lot harder in the box, but without pulling too much. It’s made a big improvement on how well my horse stands in the corner.
2) In the box without a steer in the chute, I’ve been simulating a run by dropping my hand and just taking off as if I’m chasing a steer. A lot of horses will want to delay, but the main goal is to try to get him to leave off my hand. It’s actually easy to feel the difference from this drill.
3) Going to the steer, I have a tendency to point my shoulders toward the cow (as you can see in this photo). My body is turned completely to the steer. I don’t know why, but my body is trying to go to the steer rather than riding my horse square. Speed is trying to get me to sit straighter and ride my horse and rope at the same time. It feels terrible, but I’m trying to work on it. I think it’s just a little harder to get the full run out of your horse when you’re leaning or shifting your weight to one side like I have a tendency to do.
4) I’ve also been working on getting more run out of my horse to the cow. A lot of that has to do with running to a consistent spot, over and over, and not taking throws for myself. That way, my horse is just trying to get to that spot instead of looking for my throw. That allows me to throw when I’m ready instead of when my horse is going left. I’m riding hard to my spot, roping and letting off. That release slows him down all the way to a stop, letting him trickle down slowly so he’s responding to my hand.
5) In the run, I’ve been working on having a lot more control as I turn the steer. There are a few different drills we do on that. For instance, I’m running to my spot, roping my steer and slowing my horse down, like I mention in the previous paragraph. Making him respond to the bridle reins and my legs, to keep his shoulders up and controlled, instead of just making runs and heading out when I throw, will make the corner easier on my horse and my heeler. I want my horse to be more responsive to my legs and my hands, rather than just a normal rope horse looking to go left. In case something happens, I want to be able to pick the horse up or move him back to get the steer on the end of the rope.