Jeff Flenniken’s Tips for Roping in the Mud

Despite the rain, mud, and cold, Jeff Flenniken secured the average win at the Mike Cervi, Jr. Memorial Roping in Casa Grande, Arizona. Here's how.

Situation:

First round with Jaylen Eldridge, Mike Cervi Jr. Memorial Roping in Casa Grande, Arizona

Outcome:

6.18 in the round, first in the average with a 34.03 seconds on five head

Payout:

$29,154

1) MUD:

I was just trying to take a smart start, not to be too conservative and not push it either. A lot of steers were going down where they were turning them. With the mud, my goal was to keep my steers on their feet.

2) WEATHER:

The rain was hitting me hard in the face on that run. My hands were freezing, and the first run my hands were so cold I couldn’t point my finger—I just palmed my rope. I don’t have good circulation in my hands, so they were just numb. I was swinging my rope when I rode into the box and was nervous that I couldn’t feel anything, so I told myself to not point my finger and turn my rope over and keep it flat. My loop was actually maybe one of the best I threw all day, but I went fairly to him.

READ: Idaho Boys Flenniken and Eldridge Best the Elements, Get Cervi Win

3) START:

I didn’t plan on getting that good of a start but it just ended up being my best start of the day. Some you had to see tail, some hip. On the good ones you’d have to see hip. It was dang sure out there a ways. The barrier was even with the 18-foot box.

4) STEERS:

Some of those steers were strong and bigger, and some were weaker. Ours were a little weaker. I was trying to stick and push a stride before I thought about turning off. They were a good set of steers and pretty fresh still. They seemed like they only had one run on them.

5) HAZE:

When it’s slick like that, you don’t want the steers coming left so your horse has to make big moves to widen out. I told Jaylen (Eldridge) not to haze them—to wait until I went. I wanted to leave them straight, and if they wanted to go right to let them so I knew where they’re going. In the short round it had dried up, so he eased with the steer since I knew we’d have to be decently aggressive.

WATCH: Handling Cattle That Go Left

6) HANDLE:

I was trying to use more forward momentum than usual to keep the steers standing. That’s what I was doing with his rein on his neck pushing him forward. I was trying to rope and get his head and let him turn himself before I started pulling him.

WATCH: Good Handles vs. Bad Handles

7) HORSE:

That’s a horse I bought from Dillon Holyfield. His name is Bubba, and he’s 9. Dillon amateur rodeoed on him, and I asked him if he ever rode him in the mud and he said that he was always great in the mud. He didn’t care at all, so I stayed on him.

8) BODY POSITION:

I try to stay sitting up real straight. If I lean on this horse, he gets on his butt too much. So I try to stay square and sit up straight and keep my legs straight under me. That’s how I feel like I can control the whole run. He feels amazing if you sit up straight. I try to keep my shoulders real square.

READ: 2018 Resistol Rookie of the Year Jeff Flenniken

9) PARTNER:

Jaylen Eldridge and I have roped together since we were young, and that makes it that much cooler to win the biggest roping I’ve ever won with him. He ropes so good and his horse is really special.