The Power of Good Position

Everybody has to find his or her own way of achieving good position every time, so you can consistently set up your shot. When most people get into trouble, they’re either out of position coming into the corner because they’re riding too high up, too far back, too far out to the right or too close in to the left. Your approach going down the arena sets up that turn and determines where you’re going to end up for the delivery.

You need to ride each horse differently. On a horse with a lot of cow and cheat to him, you have to come in a little higher and harder to keep up the steam you need to avoid cutting the corner and stopping. To compensate, you need to hold him out a little more and keep kicking to drive him around that corner and keep moving.

If you don’t keep kicking and riding a horse like that he’s going to turn in at the head (too early) and stop dead still before you’re ready to throw.

If you’re riding a horse that’s a little more free-wheeling, you need to hold back a little bit riding down the arena because he’ll be moving in there real free to turn the corner. You want to allow him a little more room, because he’s going to keep coming and not shutting down. You need to give him a little more time to react and turn in, then a little more space to roll into. You get the same result on both horses (the same spot), but need to ride them totally differently to achieve that position

If you’re stopped and the steer’s still moving to where he’s too far out in front of you, it’s going to lower your consistency and you’re going to be fighting to get to the horn. It’s a bad chain reaction, because you end up having to compensate all the way down the line to make up for that mistake

The guys who keep their horses moving with the steer in the turn and get a good, consistent spacing have higher success rates. When you’re moving with that steer and he’s not leaving you, it’s just like roping the dummy. It’s easier, and therefore more consistent

You can get lapped up on a steer because you’re riding back too far coming down the arena and your horse compensates by cutting the corner.

Horses get in a habit of doing that because you turn them loose and let them, and you aren’t riding them in a controlled and consistent manner. A horse gets in that habit when you turn loose and pitch him his head

Riding right up on the steer and in too close/tight to the steer to the left doesn’t give a horse any room, either, and he’ll cut across. If he takes a step in at all, he’s already lapped up and too far to the inside.

Another thing I see heelers do is get around behind a steer too much and end up straight behind or just a little bit by him. That’s usually from riding too close to a steer going down the arena and riding a horse that’s not athletic enough to get turned in like that. The horse will just float by.

Some of the better ropers’ horses get to floating by because they get used to that guy coming around the corner and catching all the time. But expecting your horse to make that move, get to the inside and give you a good shot from there is a lot to ask of a horse. Positionwise, you basically cover your shot up when that happens and can’t clearly see where you need to place your loop. That can cause inconsistency.

A freer horse with a lot of run going down the pen needs to be backed off a little with the steer out there a little further out in front of you in order to eliminate floating by or getting too straight behind.

Once you’ve learned how to time the steer and deliver a pretty consistent loop, the part of being able to get the kind of position you want time and time again becomes the whole focus to the game. You still have to stay sharp with your swing and delivery, but setting up your run with your horse to give yourself good position is the one thing that takes you to a different level and allows you to compete at the top level. STW

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