Pushing the Barrier by Speed Williams: May 20150
Riding Across the Line
One of the biggest struggles for headers is learning to rope faster. Now days, at most jackpots, the barrier is short and the header just needs to let the steer move before leaving the box. This often positions the header at his steer quicker than he’s ready to rope. How well you ride across the line will dictate how fast you will be able to rope.
There are many opinions about the proper way to ride across the line. But if you are trying to hold on with your legs, and sitting in the saddle as the horse runs, he will beat your rear end with the saddle, and throw you in the air causing you to pull on the bridle reins. This happens to people far more than they realize. The result is that by hanging onto or balancing on the reins, your horse slows down and you’re teaching him to run through the bridle. You just cannot get to the steer as fast when you’re using the bridle reins for balance, even unintentionally.
I see this quite often in my schools and most people don’t realize they’re doing this until we watch the video and it’s pointed out to them. It’s just like driving a car with your foot on the brakes all the time. Essentially you’re teaching your horse to have a hard mouth and to be unresponsive. This all comes from not riding your horse correctly in the first two jumps.
It’s been a year since my wife lost her good heel horse and started back heading seriously. One of her biggest struggles is riding across the line even though she rides extremely well. She grew up playing polo where they squeeze from their hips to their knees constantly. Consequently, it’s very difficult for her to swing her rope with any speed on it, which also makes it hard for her to get ready to rope fast.
This is one of the most difficult things for a header to master. You should be able to drop your left hand forward, put weight in your stirrup and ride across the line swinging your rope and be ready to rope when you reach your steer. Much easier said than done. I break this down on the Hot Heels going at a walk in order to do things fundamentally correct.
I’m currently working on a video of some of the clients I’ve been coaching that shows how much they’ve improved and how much faster they can rope. You have to break it down and do it correctly on the Hot Heels at a walk, trot, and lope before you ever have a chance going fast.
What’s new with me: Recently I had an “awakening” at the American rodeo. Even though I don’t plan on being a full time rodeo cowboy, there are some good ropings and rodeos I will compete at. To be truly competitive I realized I needed a seasoned, older horse. I have some really cool young horses that will be very good one day. But they’re not finished and competing on a young horse is difficult. Finished head horses are hard to find and I’ve been reluctant to buy one because I didn’t want to be tempted to get back on the rodeo trail. But I’m staying booked with my schools and I enjoy teaching very much.
It’s baseball season and both my kids are playing this year. The weather has turned nice in Texas and people are starting to book schools for a week at a time. This really enables us to work through problems, allowing them to progress more quickly.
I just loaded my runs from Austin, the Hork Dog, and the World Series at Salado. These videos are free for anyone to watch at speedroping.com. Subscribers will be able to watch the video described above with instructions of how to ride your horse across line in order to rope faster.