Making smooth and fast runs on the heel side requires patience through the corner—something that Thorp has worked on his whole career that paid off dividends at the 2019 wrangler National Finals rodeo.
I’ve been working on staying patient and not panicking, no matter the conditions, the steer or the situation. I don’t want to feel behind the run, but I want to relax leaving the box and carry that throughout the run.
I’m patient when the head rope goes on, and I let the steer develop and make my entry. From the start of the run, I want to be patient, even if I get into a bad spot or feel behind.
What I mean by not panicking is that I don’t want to make any extra movements if I’m in a weird spot. I want to use my left hand to engage my horse as I make my entry into the corner, requiring my horse to be light and coming off my hand, allowing me to use my legs to move him.
I’m trying to keep my upper body still. I want to use my core and keep my right shoulder back to maintain power on my rope. I want to give myself plenty of momentum through the run and keep my shoulders back to not get off balance. If I get in a bad spot, I have to use my feet to catch up, but the idea is not to panic or overreact. When I do, my upper body gets thrown forward, and my right shoulder leans forward and I lose power in my rope. I want to keep my upper body still but drive my horse with my legs up under me.
This keeps me from rushing a bad throw. If I can stay patient, and keep my shoulders back, I can see things in front of me better. If it’s bad, I can stay moving, use the momentum and power of my swing so I can feel them later.
When It Worked:
In Round 1 of the 2019 National Finals Rodeo, Cody Snow and I drew a stronger steer, and I was really happy with how patient I was through the corner. I was patient and kept my shoulder back and didn’t do anything unorthodox but still heeled him on the first or second hop. It could have been a run that got a little out of control—especially on that critical first steer of the Finals that sets the pace for the rest of the week.
Panicking can also mean forcing my rope speed to try to catch up to the run. I don’t focus 100% on my rope speed because I feel like the more I emphasize swinging my rope hard, the more I’ll fight it. I want a fluid swing that’s controlled. I want my shoulder back because that gives me more power in my delivery. And I want more weight in my stirrups to give me more balance in my saddle to help me continue my swing.
[READ: Freeze Frame with Wesley Thorp]