One thing ropers must understand: No matter what you’re doing with your horses, you’re always teaching them something. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to you.
It’s so important that, as ropers, horsemen and horsewomen, we are thinking every day about what we’re teaching our horses. If you think you’re not teaching your horse something, you’re wrong.
I hear heelers talk about their horses “breaking wide” a lot. You see them at the roping, and they’ll be quartered into the corner toward the chute, hoping that fixes the problem.
This is the biggest Band-Aid I’ve ever seen. To fix a little problem, they’re creating a bigger problem. By aiming their horse to the chute, they’re actually telling their horse to take a bigger step to the right or they’ll literally run into the chute as they leave the box. I can see getting by a horse a couple runs at a jackpot if they start breaking wide out of nowhere, but you also have to remember that you’re training your horse to do something. It can be negative or it can be positive.
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Evaluate your practices: What did I teach my horse today? You never ride a horse without teaching him something. If you’re just out riding and didn’t do anything but exercise your horse and you had the reins on his neck, you probably taught your horse to be flatter that day. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on your discipline, but the fact of the matter is you taught him that.
Practicing, did you teach your horse to break even wider if that was a vice? Heelers, if your horse is getting strong and wanting to the steer and you don’t ever stop him, all you’ve taught your horse that day was to completely ignore your left hand through the corner because you’re going to get to the same spot no matter how hard you’re pulling.