1. Score Better.
Jake Barnes: “You have to build your horse’s confidence. Pet on your horse when he does it right and don’t pick on him too much. When you score, do the same things you usually do before you nod or you’re wasting your time. If you back in there with loose reins and no heeler, your horse will know you aren’t going to go. Make it realistic. I even have my heeler leave when the gate opens when I’m scoring. Heelers don’t like to blow out of there real hard, but I like to have some kind of movement on that side. They can always use their practice horses. Most of the top ropers practice for their horses, because they realize how critical it is to score on them and free them up.” Read more here.
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2. Perfect the Angle of Your Swing.
Clay O’Brien Cooper: “When it comes to the mechanics of your roping, it’s all about angles. Because of the way a heel loop works, the angle of your swing becomes a very important factor. The most common characteristic of the angle of pro guys’ swings is an angle that comes down over the left side of the steer on the left side of his horse’s head.” Read more here.
3. Use Your Feet.
Jake Barnes: “You have to be conscious of where your feet are. When you lean and your feet get behind you, your feet can get in the flanks of your horse. You need to be conscious of where your feet are at all times during a run. If you get to leaning too much, your feet get back behind you. A lot of horses, especially younger horses, won’t rate when you do that. And if you hit one in the wrong spot with spurs on, he might even buck you off. You need to lean a little bit to rope, but if you lean too much you’re going to pay the price.” Read more here.
4. Stay Balanced.
Clay O’Brien Cooper: “Balance is the whole key to being able to ride well and get good position. You need to be able to stay centered and balanced. There are so many different parts of roping going on all at one time when you’re making a run, from the things your horse has to do to the way you ride him to maneuver him into position when the steer turns back. There are also the things you need to do yourself, pertaining to your swing, timing, delivery, slack and getting to the horn. All of that revolves around your ability to balance yourself properly in the midst of it all.” Read more here.
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5. Handle the Pressure.
Jake Barnes: “There is pressure to deal with, regardless of what level roper you are. I’ve felt it throughout my whole career and I still feel it. You have to learn how to train your mind to overcome the pressure. Some people thrive on it naturally, and other people run from it. The guys who are the most successful embrace it. When you’re in a position to win big money or are running at a title, there’s a lot of extra pressure. And you have to learn to deal with it. The best way to do that is to put yourself in that position a lot of times. Experiencing that pressure in those situations is the best way to get it figured out.” Read more here.
6. Check Your Horses.
Clay O’Brien Cooper: “There are really only two choices you have when you need a good horse and plan on trying to win. You’re faced with finding the best one you can find and paying the price for him. Or you’re going to have to make one yourself, which is doable but takes a lot of time. And you’re going to get your butt kicked for a while when you’re doing it. I’ve done it both ways, and the long and short of it is I’d rather be riding a 15-year-old horse that’s not going to make mistakes than try to make a living on a young one. That’s just extremely hard.” Read more here.
7. Work on Position Leaving the Box.
Jake Barnes: “You can break your horse right down the rail or wall and be too wide. If you get too wide, you’ll make the steer run away from you. If he’s going away from you and you’re too wide, it’s going to take awhile to make up that ground and close the gap between your horse and the steer. You’re basically giving that steer a big advantage. What you’re looking for is a happy medium. If you’re too far away, you’ll be forced to reach.” Read more here.
8. Watch Closely.
Clay O’Brien Cooper: “I’ve learned so much by always watching other guys I look up to and admire. I still learn a lot that way. If you’re looking to learn and gain more knowledge, if you just sit and watch you’ll pick up things left and right-things you’ve never noticed before and things you can try. I grew up watching the Camarillos, Walt Woodard and all the guys who were in the generation before me. I never really had anybody teach me how to rope, I just learned by watching.” Read more here.
Photo by Lone Wolf Photography