fix it

Following the Steer, with Junior Nogueira
Are you struggling to get in time and catch two feet? Check that your horse is hooking onto and following the steer through the corner.
Junior Nogueira riding Kiehnes Frosty Pepto, heeling at the 2023 Lonestar Shootout
Nogueira and Kiehnes Frosty Pepto at the 2023 Lone Star Shootout. | Jamie Arviso photo

It’s very important to follow the steer, from the time you are heading down the arena to making your entrance into the corner. You see the best guys, when they know exactly when to make the turn, they follow the steer and that’s how they can get in time with them. Even when you throw fast, the horse should be ready to follow the cow and hooked up to the cow. You can throw fast because your horse is hooked up to the cow. 


It’s important to learn how to control your horse. Everybody talks about how to get the horse and steer at the same speed, but the goal is to measure and follow the cow. The Smarty helps a lot—you have to learn how to control your horse, and that’s the best tool to do it. Even an old horse can use the Smarty to go whatever speed you want. You can go fast and slow down or slow and speed up so you learn how to find that spot on the cow and follow. That’s good for the horse and the roper. 

On the dummy, I stop and back my horse up if he’s getting too strong, and then I redo it a couple times until he starts listening to me. I don’t like to have to pull on my horse. If they’re pulling on me, it’s not a good feel. You’ll see my left hand holding them up, but I want them to accept my hand on the bridle but not over-pull. If they’re doing that, I want to bring them back to the dummy and stop him a couple more times. I want to change his mind and back him up and get him thinking behind the bridle. 

My approach is to keep it easy and let them find the cow and let them cruise through the corner. I don’t want to be pushing and pushing and getting them confused on their position. If I have them broke and if I use the Smarty, they won’t need to get too strong or too ratey. 

It All Goes Back To…

The main thing is getting your horse broke. Especially young horses need to spend time getting broke and soft. They need to learn how to stop, back up and give their head. It sounds so basic and so simple, but too few people take it seriously and really commit to it. If your horse is unbroke, and they get worked up and hot, they’re going to win. You won’t be able to reel them back in. You will fight. 

When it comes to horsemanship, I learned so much from Robbie Schroeder. And now, I go to Shawn Grant and Kollin VonAhn to pick their brains about what my horses are doing and how I can improve. I call and ask for ideas if I’m struggling. They’re always great, and they have things to say that I’ve never thought of. I work on it every single day. Your horses need to move light, with all the maneuvers, so no matter what the steer does, he can stay in his spot and get you in a good spot to throw. Some horses are better, more athletic. But the basics have to be there. It will make your job catching the steer way easier. TRJ

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