I had a bad habit of letting my horses get too flat through the turn—not rocking in their front end necessarily, but letting them get too cowy and too flat and not collected. I’ve been working on that with Drago, too, keeping my left hand up. I have a bad habit of throwing them their head through their turn. Sadly, that’s translated to my young ones too, so I’ve been working on getting them picked up and into the bridle more.
I address it on the sled to start with. Warming up, I try to push them up into the bridle, asking them to break at the pole with their butt down. I don’t want them bowing—I think sometimes people have them too broke at the pole to where their head is too low and can get them front-endy. It’s not a steady pull. Warming them up, and on the dummy, I ask for a little bit, then I release it when they give it to me. There’s a fine line.
I rope some slower steers so I can have their head up the whole time, to where I don’t have to give them their head entirely to allow them to run. Slowly it builds up from there, and over time I can translate that to steers that are stronger.
In the run, I keep my feet into them and pushed up, and I want it to be a habit to where I’ve changed their headset, so in the run I don’t have to be in their mouth all the time. I want one to be as naturally cowy as they want, but they need to be listening. I don’t want my spurs in them so much that it takes away their natural instincts.
I think Joseph Harrison does a great job of keeping one up in his hand, but he doesn’t get in their way. He doesn’t ask too much of one. That’s whose brain I pick when we run into each other—I show him videos of my young ones and ask him what he’d do or what bit to ride.
I bought a Kerry Kelley correction with twisted bars this fall that’s got a really good feel. That gives me some whoa with the tight twist, but it’s not a lot of pallet pressure where it won’t freak one out. Drago isn’t the lightest horse out there, but I don’t mind that much because I don’t want him so sensitive he overreacts to my hand, either, to where it picks him up out of his focus. He’s never out of control. I don’t want one super, super light to where they’re so sensitive—maybe that’s because my riding isn’t good enough yet—but I do try to get my young ones as soft and sensitive as can be.