Lately I’ve been working on getting my horses to run harder. That sounds pretty basic, but it can take a lot of work when you want to throw fast and turn the steers quickly.
I usually run slow steers at my house on my good horses. I’ll give them a 50-foot head start, and I’ll blow to the steer and make my horse slow off. It can be really tough for them to get going that fast and then slow down, so it’s good for them to rate and think about what they’re doing.
If one of my horses is getting really short or wanting to duck, I will run by a steer in the practice pen. This drill usually just takes one steer to get their attention. When I feel my horse wanting to duck, I just ride him by the steer, usually driving him with my feet and keeping my left hand straight, and that will really get his attention. I don’t lose my patience or do anything dramatic, because sending him by a steer is usually dramatic enough to really change his mind about ducking.
Some ropers focus too much on what happened on their last steer. You have to have a short memory in this sport, because there will inevitably be failure from time to time. But if you get too down on that failure, it affects your next run. The same goes for winning—if you’re overly confident, you’ll make mistakes or not safety up when you need to.