Q: Dear Matt,
I'd like to see an article about how to dally safely. I learned the hard way about dallying that if you're in trouble let go and save your thumb. Do you need to change your posture when you dally? What are the physical things I need to do with my torso when I dally? How many wraps do you take and where do you hold the rope once you're tight and you turn off?
Richard, Billings, Mont.
A: When learning how to dally and practicing your dally, I would definitely recommend a Heel-O-Matic or some sort of mechanical dummy, and if you don't have that option have someone stand on the ground and pull your rope through your hands and you take a dally. Remember to keep your eyes on the target; the saddle horn won't move. This will help you feel more comfortable with the rope sliding through your hands.
Your upper body should stay square and up over the saddle horn to where you can dally. My right hand is forward and my left hand is forward, everything is going toward the steer and keeping everything moving forward rather than leaning back.
As far as your body posture, I would say keep your upper body square and up over the saddle horn. This puts you in a good position to dally but not leaned over the horn where your feet get too far back.
In this picture, the horse is starting to move left and picking that steer up. I'm trying to pick the horse up to slow the corner down a little bit. Everything is tight around the steer's head and tight to the saddle horn before I go left.
I'm picking up on my horse. I'm still going straight. It helps if you can slow down before you turn.
I haven't completed my dally 100%. I'm kicking my horse up and my body is square down the arena, almost squared up toward the steer. My left hand is up and I'm not leaned over the horn, but I'm in position to dally: not leaned over it or rocked back behind it.
I have a full dally. My hand is all the way around the saddle horn. Here I'm kind of up and putting pressure in my stirrups and gauging the control of the speed to make the corner as soft as possible. My left hand is controlling the speed of the steer. Everything is slowed down and controlled. The horse is in the left lead and I'm balanced in the stirrup. Everything is going smooth.
When you do get a dally I would say take only one complete wrap. This allows you to stop your rope from sliding but also gives the time to get undallied if something was to go wrong. Always take a full dally because if you take a half wrap it will slide rope to your heeler and cause a hard-to-read handle
In this picture, my hand has gone completely around the saddle horn one full wrap. I'm keeping my eye on the steer's head to keep him going in the same direction as well as to watch the heeler, keep the timing and be ready to face as soon as possible. I've sat all the way down now to gauge everything with my legs or my hands. If they're trying to pull too strong, I'll use my left hand and my left leg, If they need to pull harder, I'll use my right leg.