Round Winning at the NFR

Q: Dear Kinney,
How did you guys win three rounds at the NFR? It seemed like you either won the round or missed. What does it take to do that out there?
Kevin, Round Rock, Texas

Garrett (Tonozzi) spun nine out of 10 steers, if not for the win, then for some money, and I have to credit a lot to that. After being there two years, I know what it takes to win. It takes a rhythm, I think. I never had had a rhythm in that arena before where everything fits and feels good. I always felt out of whack and nothing was smooth about it. This year we got in a rhythm and it made everything easier. It’s a matter of knowing where to ride to and knowing where the steers are going to come out of the corner. So I just try to get to that spot where I feel comfortable and put my loop in front of the steer’s feet. It aggravates me when I miss, it shouldn’t be that hard to rope two feet, but it doesn’t take me out of rhythm.

Being the first team out during the first performance of the Finals, the main thing we wanted to do was make a clean run. We knew the steers always try harder in the first three rounds than they do throughout the NFR. That steer started really hard and from a heeler’s position what I was thinking was, that box is really narrow,

I need to get down the arena as far as I can.

I saw that Garrett roped a neck and that steer was really trying to get away from him there. I knew that steer was going to make a strong corner, so what I was trying to do was to ride to the outside of him as hard as I could.

When I got in behind him, I threw a little bit high on the right side-I kind of made a bobble there-after that I just tried to feed the rope back to him and let him stick that other leg in there. I just tried to squeeze forward with my horse, let a little bit of rope go through my hand and not pull my slack and let that rope try to open back up and sit down. Sometimes that doesn’t work, but luckily it did this time.

After coming off a pretty big win in the first round, we had the same game plan and the momentum going with us. Again, the steer started hard and was trying to get away. As soon as I saw Garrett’s head rope on him I just tried to get as close as I could to the steer. I knew things were going to happen pretty dang fast right there. Garrett got his head and brought him back over there really good, so I just dropped it in there and let Garrett pull him in it.

As fast as that head rope went on, once I realized I had made the corner and had him caught, I was thinking go-round again. It’s not a very clean heel loop. Nothing very open and clean about it, but it just worked. That’s turning one pretty fast if I can already have him roped in 2.1.

That was a really good steer. He stepped over to the left just a little bit, which allowed me to have a little more distance between me and the steer. That gives me more momentum coming into the corner, which makes for a stronger finish. Garrett heads them so fast, he’s going to wind up in that corner a lot, but his horse is so good at running hard, not taking his throw away and when he gets ahold of his steers he can do whatever he wants with them. That horse doesn’t duck in that arena so he doesn’t have to worry about getting faced in that corner. My horse finishes strong as well.

That steer set up really good in the corner, he stayed on the end of the rope and didn’t run and hit and come out of it real sharp, instead he hung on the end of it, which gives me another split second to make sure I threw a good loop and catch.

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