I prepare myself for every possible situation on the ground so I’m never thinking about anything when I’m roping. It’s all been thought out long before I ever back into the box. I’ve roped the dummy to win the BFI thousands of times, and I’ve roped the dummy thousands of times from every position so that my muscle memory knows how to react no matter what.
On the dummy, I’m going to take the eye of my rope to the buckle of the horn wrap. I’m going to use my pinky, which is my bottom strand, to take it under the right horn and push it forward through the horns.
Always when I’m roping the dummy, I’m not swinging really fast, like I would be on a horse. When I get on a horse, my swing starts going faster trying to get to the cow with my feet. When I use my legs, it makes me swing faster. But on the dummy my focus is on intentional swings. On the ground, I’m trying to feel all parts of my rope and place my rope where I want it, whether I’m going all the way to the hip with a high-percentage shot, to throwing from three coils away. I’m focused on being able to hit the honda of my rope to wherever I’m wanting to hit on the dummy.
Applying the Practice
The above photo is from Ardmore, Oklahoma, at an Ariat World Series of Team Roping. Buddy (Hawkins) and I had to be 11 to win it. People think that wouldn’t be stressful for me. But they call me and Buddy the catching-est team alive. To keep up with that persona, we’ve got to keep catching. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t put pressure on me. But I can always go back to my foundation on the dummy, because I’ve prepared. I’ve thought about where I’m putting my top strand and bottom strand so much on the dummy, and how to pull my slack so as to not pop it off.
On this run I’m thinking about catching, and I’m not going to reach. I put my honda to the back of the horns, right at the buckle, and I pull it down tight and ease to the left. I don’t worry at all about having a figure-eight in my rope—I don’t care if it’s pretty. I want it to go on and stay on.