Some heelers have to find a horse that fits them. I feel like I can change my style to fit the horse. There are so many different styles of horses. I like to try to get along with whatever I’ve got. No matter what my horse does—or how I have to adjust to it—if I can get my bottom strand evenly placed on the ground, I’ll catch.
1. I like that my horse, Pickle, has got her butt in the ground and she’s waiting for it. A horse that’s sliding like that is pedaling forward and waiting for me to dally. Sometimes you see horses that are stood up on their back end and about to drop their front end—that drives your tip into the ground. The way she’s sliding and pulling with her front end, that lets my bottom strand get all the way to the ground. You can tell that steer is long trotting off and I’ve got my top strand up in his flank. Those steers in Greeley were real fresh that year and we made up our mind that we had to go at him for a chance at the short round. I took a fast shot even though he was a wild one. When I get my bottom strand to where it sits evenly on the ground all the way across, that makes your top strand stand up real high in the flank.
2. This is a great look at my bottom strand on the ground. Pickle is sitting on the ground and pedaling through the stop. The steer is actually pulling the top strand forward. He’s coming down from the hop where the top strand was up in his flank, and his hocks are pulling the top strand down. Standing to deliver also helps me get my bottom strand on the ground. If I sit down, I won’t get my bottom strand down. So I stay forward until that bottom strand is on the ground, and I don’t sit down until I want to dally. That also cues my horse to stop without me having to pull.
3. That’s Cruiser and he looks like an angry little horse right there. He’s just that cowy. When you leave the box, he’s got his ears pinned and he’s wanting to go get them. I retired him this year, he’s 17. The steer was swinging away from me and I roped him on the swing rather than waiting for him to clean up and straighten up. That’s why the rope is higher on his right leg than his left. You can see his head is even still bent. That’s kind of the way we rope. Erich [Rogers] rolls them and I take this shot where they’re floating down the arena a lot. I don’t like a big switch. I just like them to get to bend their head a little and go. That, to me, is a comfortable shot. This horse stops a lot harder than Pickle. As soon as I sit down and dally, he’s running backward like a calf horse. I have to stay up on the mare longer to keep from losing legs, but on this gelding I’m already sitting down to get ready to dally.
4. This one cracks me up. You can see the steer is way over in the left wall. I’m reaching around the horse’s head and the steer. I didn’t have much choice, Erich is about to get in the corner, so if I take one more swing we’re in the corner and we don’t get faced good. I had to reach around there. I stayed back a touch hoping the steer would stay straight, but he still stepped over then I was late and I had to ride hard to get there. You can see Pickle is on her butt, but she’s still pulling through. If I get my bottom strand on the ground, I’m going to catch. If my tip goes through and I don’t get my bottom strand down on the right, then I’m not going to catch even if they’re hopping straight away. The angles don’t bother me, I just have my loop matching the angle. A lot of times, if I have my tip aimed at their hocks, it will drive my tip through and my bottom will set down after my tip. I have to make my tip go over his shoulders as we go down the arena and in the corner. When I do that, my bottom strand will set down at the same time.
5. This is my new horse. I rode him the last five rounds at the NFR. I call him Marty because my uncle Marty owns him. This horse is right in between my other two. He runs like the mare and slides like her, but he stops as hard as the bay gelding. I was a little late on this steer. That steer stepped to the right and Erich threw at least three coils. We were going for the day money and I was coming in hot, so I took a quick shot and then had to hold up a little longer because I had come in so fast.