It's the big things that make big differences. I haven't wrote about position until now because I feel that on the ground we all ride well. Afoot we walk straight to our spot and rope. Horseback we often do not. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Everything I do on the machine transfers directly to steers.
From the corner of the box point your horse as close to position as possible . Do not point your horse towards the steer. Pointing directly towards the steer will have you running in too close to rope or handle. Ride a straight line from the corner to your spot 3-4 feet to the left of the steer.
When you ride too close you waste time pulling off before you can rope.?When you ride straight to position you can rope and turn the steer as soon as you get there.
Point your horse straight down the rail of the heel box. I like my heel horse to be 8-12 feet to the right of the steer.
Experiment with the concept that there is a heel barrier in the arena. If you close the gap between you and the steer before he is turned and legal to rope you break that barrier. It is pointless to achieve position before the steer is legal. More often than not if you get close to the steer before he is legal you will not be in position after he finishes the turn. You will be too far to the inside.
Notice I am just crossing the tracks of the machine as I am heeling the steer.
I have stayed on the outside until he is ready to be roped??then I ride straight to position and rope. This said, heelers I do like my horses to be slightly flexed to the left keeping their shoulder up. Not performing a roll-back going into the corner. The point I'm trying to make is that we often try to pre-create position versus waiting until the steer is finishing the turn and riding straight to him.