I always had a general idea of where I wanted to turn my hand over in my swing, but I didn’t figure out the exact spot until I was fighting my head for a couple weeks in 2017. I was having heck slipping legs and missing, but thankfully I was staying at Lari Dee Guy’s house. She asked me, “Where do you think you’re turning your hand over?” And I didn’t really know how to answer that.

Whitney DeSalvo's vital stats.

Whitney DeSalvo's vital stats.

What she meant by that is—at what point of my swing was my thumb pointing down, pinky pointing up and my top and bottom strand even with one another. Lari Dee thought I was turning my hand over inside the right leg, so by the time I pulled my rope all the way through to around to throw, I was out of time. And she was right.

[LISTEN: The Score Season 1, Episode 16 with Whitney DeSalvo]

[READ: At Home With Whitney DeSalvo]

Fixing It

I’d rope the Heel-O-Matic Hox for 30 minutes before we roped, making sure I was turning my hand over to the outside of the steer’s right hind leg, visualizing that right hind leg was back. In practice, I’d only ride my good horse if my partners were on their good horses, focusing on my timing by turning my hand over to the outside of the right leg.

Like Heading

Think of it like this: when you’re heading, you won’t rope the right horn if your swing isn’t covering the right horn. It’s the same thing in heeling. From the time you leave the box, you need to turn your hand over to the outside of the right leg.

[READ: Heel Shot with Whitney DeSalvo]

COMING BACK

When I master turning my hand over at the right hock, I’ll have my bottom strand toward the sky and my top strand toward the ground by the time my rope comes to the inside of the left hock. That puts me in time to throw at any point, no matter what the steer is doing or how the run is coming together. Staying in time like this through the corner is what makes me able to throw as soon as I can when the steer is legal, and it makes it a lot easier to catch two feet. 

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