I would bet that at some point in your roping career, you’ve picked up some tips on riding position from Patrick Smith or Allen Bach or whomever you might have been around. But did you stop and think about whether that guy’s delivery style matches your own?
Yes, I said delivery. Because the way I ride my position has everything to do with my personal style of delivery – and my philosophy on catching two feet.
For instance, to break your tip over and set down a true trap out in front of a steer’s feet, you need to be 100 percent in the perfect position. Beginners are almost always told that learning to lay a trap is a good thing. I say it’s not, for two reasons.
The first is versatility. Consider the fact that I can tie my dummy in the air and stand to the left of it and sweep my tip across under there, and then also stand 15 feet off to the right of it and catch it, too. Well, if I can rope my dummy from any position, then if my horse happens to find himself in the wrong position in a run, my right arm can make up for what my left arm didn’t do correctly that time.
And the second reason is that it’s a technique not even used by the best in the world. Would you teach a pee-wee basketball player a skill that’s not used in the NBA? Why not just teach youngsters to dribble and pass the way the pros do, and let them practice those techniques over the years? I’m a visionary – I look ahead all the time, and I don’t want a guy to work at becoming a great trapper only to discover he’s hit the ceiling of success.
The same thing happens to headers who are taught only to rope right horn-left horn or only to rope both horns at once. The ability to do one or the other, depending on your horse’s position, can salvage your run if your left hand or feet failed you. And a heeler’s right arm can get him out of a jam when a trap is impossible, like if a steer is falling to the right or getting away. I’m not saying don’t strive for perfect horsemanship – I’m just saying it never hurts to play a little defense.
Come to one of my schools this year, and you’ll see that I believe you can do what I do (with lots of practice) even if you’re the lowest-numbered roper on the planet. Who am I to assume you can’t get in time with a steer, or can’t learn to rope both horns at once? I want to give you the tools to do it the way we do it. And if you can’t, at least I haven’t limited you by teaching you a style that can only take you so far.
Learning the fundamentals with the most potential for greatness is just smart roping. Visit smartroping.com for more tips and to check out my clinic schedule.
Visit my web site, smartroping.com, for more.