1. There’s a couple different ways I’ve seen guys heel. Some guys use their left rein and their left foot and they bleed in behind the steers a little. Some guys, like Clay O’Brien Cooper and Travis Graves, really come across and make their horse’s shoulders square up and get to the inside.
2. In this picture, I feel like I’ve got my horse’s shoulders square and my horse is to the inside—maybe a little closer than what some people would like. But that fits the style of roping where you get going through the corner a little bit tight, get over the steer and let the steer pull away. In this picture, my swing is over the steer’s back at a steep angle. My hand is high and I’m not leaning.
[Culpepper’s Heeling Essentials]
3. When the steer takes a jump away, there’s separation, and that’s when you heel steers. I have a tendency to vary back and forth between those two different ways of heeling because everywhere you go there’s a different setup. If the set up seems faster, where you want to rope first hop, I use a little left rein and get around behind the steer a little more. But if I want to be very consistent, I try to get to the inside a little bit more like Clay O. I feel like that’s the most consistent way to rope all your steers.
4. In this clip, I really got to the inside and I think this is the best overall way to heel. There’s a lot of things that can happen the other way. Your horse can bleed by, get on their front end and get you leaning. If that steer gets too far in front of your horse, it causes you to lean out to get sight of the steer, where if you come around and really square up and let your horse get to the inside, you can see the steer while you’re still sitting square on your horse and you don’t have to lean. Then you can have the proper body alignment and your swing will stay in the right position.
5. Here’s another angle of the same thing on a different horse. My body is straight up as I’m delivering and my horse is getting his butt in the ground good. I’m not leaning forward— when you lean forward, it gets your horse on his front end. I’m sitting on my pockets, which helps my horse get his butt in the ground a little better.