I heeled most of my life. Now, as a header, I truly think my heeling helped me better understand the way a run needs to take shape. When I handle a steer poorly now, I immediately imagine what my heeler is seeing back there. So, as I’m running to a steer on the head side, I am visualizing how to rope it and set it up so my heeler just has to place his loop in front of the feet.
In these pictures, I’m roping the steer and my horse, Ransom, is free enough and easy enough that I can do anything I want to do. I can keep everything moving and in control, and my heeler can ride all the way around so there’s no hesitation in the corner or throughout the run. That means I can set the steer up to heel him as fast as possible.
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When I get the steer’s head, I’ve got momentum. I like to let my momentum pull me and the steer, and I can bring his head back a little bit. If the steer’s butt is a little away from the heeler just a touch, he can see him better. If you can bring the steer back at a slight angle, where your heeler can see him, it sets your heeler up to heel faster.
After I’ve brought my horse back a little bit, I want to accelerate and open the steer up. I want to push my horse out and speed up just a hair and encourage the steer to hop better and leave the hole.
I am not necessarily just watching the steer. I’m watching my partner to see how he’s coming in. I pay attention to his rope and the timing of the steer’s feet, so I can slow up or move on if I need to. I want to know his position and his timing coming in so I can react to what I need to do.
I want to keep everything moving and not face too early. If my heeler is still holding his slack, that’s too early. I want to go all the way to the end and then ask my horses to face. My horses face really well—something Trevor (Brazile) puts in each of them—so I can have the confidence to do that.