The Team Roper’s Tool Box with Buddy Hawkins II
Every roper shows up to compete with a tool box. Knowing which tools you bring to the table helps you build your game plan for each and every roping.

Buddy Hawkins’ heeling relies on a set of tools he’s honed over years in the practice pen and on the road. Here’s how he analyzes and uses his tools to help him be one of the sport’s elite:


The Hammer

Some ropers have one tool in their tool box. Maybe all they have is a hammer. They nail the start, throw their whole rope and run to the end of it. If they’re a heeler, they’re firing fast on the first hop. There are lots of ropers who’ve built successful careers like that. As long as you are aware that you only brought a hammer, that’s fine.

The Wrench

There are other ropers with a hammer and a wrench. They can mad bomb in the mouth of the box or go to the cow and go right to left on the horns. As a heeler, they can crossfire or they can maybe go two or three jumps and get in time and rope. That’s the sort of tool box a lot of people who make a living with a rope have.

The Greats

Speed Williams and Rich Skelton: they have all the tools. Speed can run to the cow, kick him in the hip and cover the horns or drop three coils or use his middle game. Rich is the same way.

Knowing Yourself

I’m working on knowing what tools to use. Nowadays, you can be careful and place on the best steer once in a while, but you’ll be behind. If you go hard all the time, you’ll end up ahead at the end of it. But if you’ve got all the tools, you don’t have to use your entire rope, or as a heeler, you can take a swing over and still win a top-four check. You’ve just got to be able to take an honest assessment of your abilities and use the tools you have. 

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