Coy Rahlmann’s Salinas-Winning Secrets
"I wanted to do the best I could without messing up, and that’s how I approached it."
Coy Rahlmann and Jonathan Torres riding next to each other at California Rodeo Salinas
Click Thompson photos

Coy Rahlmann and Jonathan Torres hadn’t been on top of the world when they pulled into California Rodeo Salinas in late July, but by the time they rolled out on championship Sunday, they were $10,307 a man richer after roping five steers in 48.5 seconds for the bucket list rodeo win. For Rahlmann, the win was a test of his abilities to just catch five, a mantra he went into the rodeo with. Here’s how he did it. 

Mental Game

We hadn’t drawn great all summer, and we were getting so frustrated when we did draw well, that I wasn’t on my game. Honestly, going into it at Salinas, I’m not going to say I didn’t have first in mind, but I looked at the results from the year before, and thought if I caught five clean I’d win $4,000 to $5,000, which would be a huge help. I had enough mess ups in short rounds this year—I missed high call at Clovis, I missed at Greeley—and at Tucson, Austin and Houston, we messed up in the short round. I wanted to do the best I could without messing up, and that’s how I approached it.

READ: Game-Changing Habits of the Roping Industry’s Most Successful


That is a horse I just bought this winter, that I honestly think in the next year or two I’ll start to ride more than Blue. His name is Paddys Pick Five, and I call him Whiskey. He’s 12. I bought him from Tee Woolman, but Tee didn’t own him. 

At Salinas, he’s faster than Blue. He can really smoke. I wanted to leave Blue at Salt Lake. We had to fly back to Salt Lake Thursday after our first one at Salinas, so it was better to have them in two spots. Blue is getting old enough that he didn’t need five steers asking for his life. And at Salinas, on that long score, Whiskey doesn’t flinch. He can run, and I knew he’d be easy to knock five down on. 

READ: Keeping a Head Horse Soft with Coy Rahlmann’s Leon Hughes Bit


I think at a place like Salinas or Cheyenne—and some people might disagree, but I will say this—you can be 2-foot off the barrier there.  You’re already 30 to 35-foot from the steer, so what’s another two foot? You’re not going to be two-foot off at Spanish Fork and beat Tyler Wade and Wesley Thorp in the first round, but at Salinas, you can get by. 

LISTEN: Rahlmann and Torres Win Salinas


I’m bad to start toying with my rope running to the steer. I’ll get to turning it over instead of just getting up there and taking some big, powerful swings. That’s something I’ll have to start working on at the faster rodeos, too. When I’m pulling it up, it’s not needed yet. 

I took my spurs off there, too. You’d think I’d need my spurs with needing all that run. I could be wrong, and people could disagree, but if I’m spurring the horse in the ribs going to the steer, I’m going to gas him. I didn’t want him tensed up trying to get away from me. If I’m just slick heeling him, that is when I will get more out of a horse like him that’s kind of feely. I want my left hand down on his neck, my left shoulder forward directing him to the steer, but kicking with my toes out and heels in.

READ MORE: 5 Steps to Re-Energizing Your Roping


I’m coming in hot, so I make sure I don’t rope on the way in. I got there, got leveled off and stuck. If I stick one on the way in, my horse will be gaining so much that I can pop it off. That steer in the short round was so slow, I sat down and took two big open swings over him. I didn’t want to throw a dead loop and watch it pop off. If we could slow down, the worst we could do was second. I want to ride my horse, pick it up and get four or five open swings and cover the horns.

Some of us who reach, our swings can get over to the left. It gives me some range, but it narrows down my room for error so that I have to make myself pull it back to the right more than usual, real big and over the horns for that open swing. I want my tip parallel to the horns. To the left, unless my angles and delivery are perfect, I can just catch the left horn or split the horns. I want to scoop the right and drag it across the left like I learned as a kid in this situation. TRJ

Related Articles
U.S. Marine veteran John Tidwell heads for Kelsey Willis
Heroes and Horses
From CDS Drops to AHC Ropings
Jake and Clay standing on either side of a trophy saddle.
what it takes
"If they write an epitaph on my life, I want it to say that my life was about more than winning."
Georgie Murray and Michael Brockett team roping
Two Saddles Both Alike in Dignity
Making the Leap From English Saddle to Team Roping
Wesly Thorp heeling on Juiced Up Cat
Building Confidence in Young Horses
Nelson Wyatt turning a steer to win Bigfork, Montana’s ProRodeo with Chase Tryan.
Creating More Opportunities for Your Heeler