Fix Your Shouldering Heel Horse

The Heel-O-Matic allows me to separate my roping from my horsemanship, breaking things down into manageable parts that I can address one at a time. Here’s how I work on a heel horse that wants to be strong through the turn.

TRJ File Photo

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.

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Stay Wide

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.

Stop Pushing

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. 

Lift 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.

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