[From the Feb. 2022 issue of The Team Roping Journal]
It’s no easy feat roping on a horse that’s running faster than the steer. When your horse is over-running the speed of the steer, that throws you in a different position than where you’d be if your horse was running at the same speed as the steer.
You’ve got to fight getting set back, getting drawn back in the saddle and getting your swing too far back and behind the play, because getting yourself in a bad spot that messes up your angles is easier to do on a horse that’s on the gain.
Make It Happen
The best way to rope on the gain is to give your horse a heads-up that he’s got to slow down before you get to the steer. You try to match the speed of the steer before you rope him, and then you can just turn off and go. That way, it doesn’t foul your heeler up. If you wait until you get there to match the speed of the steer, then you take another swing or two to catch him and your heeler is sitting over there waiting on you. That fouls him up because he’s had to slow down and wait and he’s lost his momentum. Knock a gear off your horse before you rope the cow so your heeler doesn’t have to pull up and slow down too much. It’s hard to do it on a horse that’s too free, but it’s a must.
Working At It
With most horses, you can ride them around enough and get them broke enough that you can get them feeling backed off the bridle. Maybe you get to the first steer, gradually slow him down and show him it’s not a race. I start off on a good note to show him he doesn’t have to run his heart out. I don’t want to pick a fight with him, because I will not win. These horses are bred to run, so that’s what they naturally want to do. On the first couple in the practice pen, I might just wait on him until he matches the speed of the cow and then turn off.