Most people have only so much time to work on their roping, and there are so many things to work on. They break it down to their loop, their swing, their delivery, their angles, their position and their horsemanship. Obviously, their goal is to catch two feet.
So, naturally, they work on the things that have to do with their swing and their loop, but they don’t realize that, in the process, they’re neglecting horsemanship. And that is what changes their position, their swing and their angles. You can’t be in good position and have bad horsemanship. Things will come up in a run that you have to adjust to, and you need to be able to do that on the fly, and you do that with horsemanship.
Your riding affects your swing and your angles, and your position always affects your angles. If you get too close in the corner and have to pull back, that messes with your swing in the process. When you’re accelerating and then pulling back, your chin or your shoulders will go backward or forward, changing the angle on the tip of your rope. If you can’t hold your position coming into the corner, you’ll be too close and pulling, and then you’ll get behind and have to accelerate, and that will throw your torso forward and back and change your angles. People have decent horsemanship will just call it having discipline because they know to keep their position through the corner.
If your horse isn’t responding to your cues and you haven’t focused on it, you can be putting yourself through an obstacle course on the way to the steer. If your horsemanship and riding isn’t where it needs to be, you’re putting yourself through a physical challenge to keep your angles the same.
I know people feel like they don’t have time to work on horsemanship, but they have to understand that it affects every other entity or segment of the run—even if you think your horse is push button or completely automatic. You are either training or untraining no matter how good that horse is.
How do you work on your horsemanship? Make sure your cues on your horse mean something. So when you’re doing your dummy work, when you pull on the reins, make sure your horse isn’t getting hard or speeding up. He needs to come back to you. You need to stop him and teach him that patience. Don’t just heel because you can. Hold him in a pattern to where he can’t get all the way to the steer so it teaches him patience.
Whatever you’re doing on your horse, swing your rope in the process. Don’t separate riding and roping all the time. It’s muscle memory and core strength and stuff you can’t emulate anywhere else. It does take riding, simulation, keeping your angles and keeping your horse in your hands.