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Finding Frame
Why and how Joseph Harrison is going back to his roots to frame up his heel horses throughout the run.
Joseph Harrison heeling on One Time Blues at the Gold Buckle Futurity.
Harrison piloting the stud Nu One Time Blues to a round win at the Gold Buckle Futurity. | Shelby Lynn photo

When your rope horse is strung out, odds are they’re unbalanced and losing hind-end engagement. This can mean slower starts, inefficient runs and sloppier stops. Joseph Harrison breaks down his approach to framing up his horses for better performance.

Why is Framing Up Important?

I had gotten away from putting emphasis on the frame in my horses. I was doing good enough and letting them be what they were more. Some wanted to stay good, and those are the ones I’d be good on most of the time. The ones that didn’t want to stay good, I’d let them find it—but that wasn’t winning and, on maybe two out of five runs, they’d be out of whack going into their stops. 

READ MORE: The Ideal Heel Horse Stop

What is Frame?

Where I first learned “the frame” as a young kid was from watching Kollin VonAhn. His horses looked so cool, with their chin in, poll up and their left shoulder up into their chin just a little bit. Their hips were under them and they were driving. Kollin had them all like that, the whole way through the run: down the arena, through the turn, into the cow and into the stop. The horse was just fixed, welded in spot. 

READ MORE: Getting Where You Need to Be as a Heeler

The How

One common misconception is to put your left leg on them and push their ribs out to get them in frame. It’s not that I want their ribs out. I ride a shorter left rein and have my right leg into the horse. I want the shoulders up and the hips in under the back cinch. Now the ribs are out, but I’m not just pushing the ribs out. If I’m just pushing the ribs out with my left leg, I’m going to push the hips out, too, and that’s not what we want. 

READ MORE: Riding Is as Important as Roping at the Highest Level

Using the Stop

Once colts figure out they want to go into the cow, that’s when holding them in frame and stopping them in the turn and letting the cow get away is OK. If you’re coming through the turn in competition, and you’re wrestling with the bridle reins up at your chin and he’s not down there looking to get in his spot on the cow, you’re not going to win. Respectfulness from the bridle reins is crucial in young horses, period, let alone ones we’re going to show.

READ MORE: Making Smooth Shots on Green Horses

—TRJ—

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