To fix a shouldering heel horse, I use the Heel-O-Matic ground-driven trainer to simulate a run while isolating the issue I need to address.
Don’t Move Until the Heel-O-Matic Moves
Wait until the dummy goes to cue your horse to follow the sled. I want my horse to work the Heel-O-Matic like a cutter works a flag—until the sled moves, I don’t want him to move. When it moves, I go ahead and ask him to lope behind it.
I want my horse to stay out wide through the corner, and I want to avoid him trying to cut across that corner as the steer turns because that collapses my pocket, messes up my timing and puts me in a bad spot. When that happens, here’s how I address it.
On the next lap around the arena, with the driver in a square behind the Heel-O-Matic, if he starts to push across before the corner, I stop him and keep him in my hand the way I want. But before we turn in, I track the Heel-O-Matic for a full three turns around the arena—turning in only when I get to the same corner I’d turn in if it were a live steer. This ensures that I’ve got my leg in him and him picked up with the bridle reins to keep his shoulder up.
At that last turn of the 4-wheeler, if I feel him starting to cut in and push on me on the corner, I stop him and lift him up. I’m not getting after him, but by stopping him and backing him off the dummy, that lets him realize that was harder than I wanted him to drive into the corner. I let him sit there and think about it.
Time to Throw Your Rope
When we start again, I go ahead and go around the arena again for three turns of the 4-wheeler in a square, and if he feels good and I have control of his shoulders, I let him go to the steer and I rope.