Five Flat with York Gill
Creating Momentum

The style is changing. Guys are swinging little circles in front of their head and pushing everything forward because the steers are smaller and hitting faster. I want my entire upper core and body to the front of the saddle so all my momentum is going forward. It’s so hard to push your tip down when you’re sitting back. A lot of guys want to sit in the back of their saddle. When you do that, your shoulders get rocked back, your swing slows down and your tip gets up in the air. 

When I’m going down the arena, I try to swing my rope a little harder and try to get the momentum of my rope going a little faster than the steer. I like all my action going forward. If your shoulders are tipped just a few more inches forward, it creates a target that’s a few feet bigger and easier to see just due to the angles. When I stay forward, I have a larger target area to throw at. 

A lot of people feed their rope when they turn the corner. You’ve got to be ready before that. You need your momentum before the action takes place. I’m riding my horse, my tip is down, I’m swinging hard and my body is forward. My loop is flat and my tip is down and I’m prepared for whatever that steer does when he starts cleaning up. I see too many guys that get thrown back in the saddle with their shoulders behind their center of gravity and it takes so much momentum off their horse. 

Credit: Lone Wolf Photos

I’ve got my left hand in my horse and I’m creating a pocket there. I’m applying a little left foot pressure and I’m swinging with momentum on my rope. I already fed my rope out and have gotten a couple of swings off. I’m pushing my tip down and pushing my horse forward. 

Here, I’m looking at my target and pushing my horse to the target while still holding his shoulder up. That’s why you use that left rein. You can see by the bit in this picture that I’ve got more pressure on that left rein. 

I don’t swing hop-for-hop going down the arena. I like to swing just a little faster than the steer is moving so I’m in front of him when we make the corner. If I’m forward, my target area is larger. With the momentum on my rope, the steer can’t beat me: I won’t get behind and have to hurry my swing. I can slow it down and still have my tip come through with momentum. If I have to speed my swing up, my tip will always be behind.

I’m pushing my tip down in this picture, and I’m ready for delivery once this steer cleans up. What’s interesting that you can see from this series of pictures is my horse in his left lead and the tip of my rope is in sync with his stride. When his leg is forward, so is my tip. If I’m keeping my swing in time with my horse going to down the arena, since my horse is running faster than the steer, that means my swing is going faster than the steer is. That gets pretty technical—and nobody really thinks about that going down the arena—but when you make a really smooth-feeling run, that’s basically what’s happening. 

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