Horse Position in Team Roping with Clay O’Brien Cooper

I’ve discussed horse position in team roping and explained what position I’m looking for. But a student at one of my team roping schools recently pointed out that he’s subscribed to Spin to Win Magazine since day one, and I’ve never pinpointed a clear definition on where I want my horse to be throughout the course of a run. So here goes.

If you’re in a 15- to 16-foot box, you’re within 10-15 feet of the steer to start with. If I get a good start and hold my steer straight, then in most arenas (unless the right fence is real close to the heeler’s box) I should have adequate room to be positioned where I want to be coming down the arena, which is no higher on the steer than to where my horse’s nose is about even with the steer’s tail and at least 10-15 feet off to the right of the steer under a jackpot-roping scenario.

That gives me enough space between my horse and the steer to hold out long enough as the steer turns to come in behind him and not cut the corner and end up too far to the inside. If I come in behind the steer instead of to the side of the steer, it’s easier to keep my horse moving with the steer as he’s being pulled away from the corner.

Plus by doing that it’s easier to keep your upper body balanced. It seems like when you cut into the side of the steer, it throws your upper-body balance off, because your horse is pulling to the left and you’re trying to get him over behind the steer to the right.

If I come around the corner behind the steer, I want to be behind him and slightly to the left, to where the steer’s hind end is in full view. The steer’s left hip should fit into the pocket of the right side of my horse’s neck and right shoulder. That’s what I should see if I’m in the right spot. The steer’s left leg should be lined up with the right side of my horse’s neck.

I want my horse’s nose about even with the steer’s tail, give or take a foot or two, in front or behind the horse’s nose, depending on your preference of distance when it comes to position. I like my position pretty much with my horse’s nose even with the steer’s tail to maybe a foot or so behind it. At that distance, the tip of my rope should be coming over the top of the steer’s back between his hips and withers. STW

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