When you’re wanting to throw fast, everyone is so concerned with getting higher on the cow and riding to the end of it, but that’s the biggest misconception about heeling. Riding farther back to maintain forward motion through the corner is the best way to ensure a fast shot and leave yourself the option of a high-percentage shot a few jumps later, too.
My whole career I was worried about the steer getting away from me. But I’ve learned that no matter what, I’m really only one swing away from a good spot at all times. Guys will start to go to amateur rodeos or running at a fast time, and they’ll ride super hard and get all the way around the cow, but that’s not it. You just have to be more patient in the corner and you’ll still get that first-hop throw. It’s about staying in your lane, as if driving down the highway.
A big part of position is that you’ve obviously got to worry about hazing for the header. If you’ve got a steer that goes straight, and you shove him over on your header because you’re riding so high, thinking you’re going to throw fast, the run will take longer anyway.
The Sweet Spot
Be aware of where the horse is in relation to the steer. You only need to be as high as your horse’s head at the steer’s hip. If you get up that high, you only have one play if that steer doesn’t clean up perfect. You’ll either run by the corner or have to pull some shot off and reach at him. If your horse is back, you’ll have more forward motion through the corner. You’re still in a spot where you can make the corner without getting yourself in a vulnerable position.
The farther back you are, the more forward motion you can maintain. As a heeler, forward motion is your best friend. Any time the horse’s feet stop, you can lose legs or miss your dally. So many things can go wrong sitting at a standstill when you throw your rope. Between my loop and my horse catching up, I can be farther away and still catch up and heel him. TRJ