The easiest way to explain how I use my left hand in my delivery is that it’s a joystick—one that I use to keep a straight, tight line between my coils and my hondo. If you watch videos of me roping, my left hand is always moving up and down, adjusting to the situation I’m in. It took me years of thinking about it for it now to be second nature, but it’s something I’ve worked on a lot in the last six years.
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It might be easiest to explain like this: If you’re holding a rope standing flat on the ground, and you drop the loop, hondo and all, the loop is going to collapse. But if you move your left hand up and down with the loop, you can keep the loop the same size. If the steer jumps away, I have to keep my left hand turned counterclockwise so it can travel farther. If I get closer than expected, I need to keep my left hand back and/or turn it down clockwise.
Left Hand Forward
I push my left hand forward when I need to guide my tip around the steer’s hocks farther, sending more loop through. If I didn’t, my loop would close and I would lose all of the power on my rope. It’s all about keeping the right amount of rope out there. For example, if the steer takes a big hop I’m not expecting or is moving away from me, I will roll my left hand down toward my right hand to give my loop more reach across the steer’s hocks.
Left Hand Back
If I’ve committed to a throw and the steer stops or drags, I can pull my left hand back to keep my loop tight and keep it from collapsing in front of the steer. My left hand keeps the balance in the loop by keeping a tight, straight line between my left hand and my hondo.