Dustin Bird talks about paying close attention to your horse in jackpot or rodeo situations.

Some ropers forget that you’ve got to pay close attention to your horse, whether you’re at a jackpot or rodeo. I’ve been riding Dolly since 2007, so I’ve spent more than a decade learning how to ride her, and I’ve had to adjust myself, too, as she’s changed with age—especially at the jackpots.

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Warm Up

On high-energy horses like Dolly, it helps me to get to the roping early and ride her down. I trot her more than I lope, and I ride her longer than I would at a rodeo where I would just need her to be explosive.

The Score

A lot of high-energy horses like Dolly score even better the longer a jackpot goes on. So if I can spend the right amount of time getting her warmed up, she’ll score at the beginning of the jackpot like she would at the end, and that’s a feel I shoot for every time I get to a roping.

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To the Steer

If I raise up too early to throw, Dolly will read me and stop running. So at the jackpot, I have to make sure to keep riding until I’m ready to throw. Otherwise, my throw will get cut short and I’ll miss the right horn. I don’t want her to be ahead of me.

What that Means

I’m keeping my body square and riding all the way to my throw. I want my body to be forward, and I need to keep riding with my feet to get to my spot where I know I have a high-percentage shot. 

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