How to Position Short-Strided and Long-Strided Heel Horses with Travis Graves

Travis Graves shares insights on how to position short-strided and long-strided heel horses.

I hear people talk a lot about short-strided versus long-strided head horses, but the same thing can be said for heel horses. There are good heel horses with both types of strides, but the roper just has to know how to position both types.

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Short-strided horses have a lot faster feet. That keeps the speed of your swing faster to stay in time with your horse and the steer. It’s easier to move the feet of a short-strided horse and get in position going down the arena and through the corner.


You have to protect a longer-strided horse a little more. You generally stay a little wider to allow things to happen and give you and your horse time to react. They can make the move if they’re wider, and by riding wider you can get in time with your horse’s time and the steer’s feet. Rich Skelton, he stays wider and doesn’t have quite as much speed on his swing, so I think he can ride a longer-strided heel horse really well. That was his style. Jade can do that too, but he can do both. He stays wider and swings slower sometimes. But to me, a shorter-strided horse lets me swing faster and fits me better.

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Understanding Conformation

Is the horse longer backed or shorter backed? A longer backed horse will likely have a longer stride, and vice versa for a shorter-backed horse. And generally, if his hocks are under him, he is shorter strided. If his hocks are under him, all he has to do is slow down and his butt goes under him. 

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