with Allen Bach
With fall horse sales gearing up, it’s a good time to talk about what you might be looking for in a horse. What I’ve found is that you might not even know for sure. If that’s the case, you need to ride some really good horses to get an idea.
If you can find someone to let you ride a horse like Switchblade, you can get a great idea what your horse is actually supposed to do. For instance, you might notice a really good heel horse start dropping its hind end more than you expected, and it might make you realize that your own horse should be getting collected earlier – or the horse you want to buy.
I always say that if you’re fortunate enough to find and buy an experienced horse, that’s the one that can teach you so much about certain parts of the run. If you’re not sure what you want to buy, I can’t stress enough how much it might help to get on several horses. The whole time, you have to keep in mind your own style of riding.
I think it’s interesting that my friend Roy Cooper, the legend, plays such a big role in his youngest son’s career – but mostly mentally. Roy probably thought his boys could figure out their own style of handling a rope and running a string, but he could tell them a thing or two about being a champion.
We want our kids to see themselves as winners – as the best in the game at 12, and at 15, etc. We want them to feel like they have an edge. You can do that with your child if you put the right horse under him or her.
Get your kid a horse that makes him or her feel confident and comfortable while roping; then upgrade to more horse at the right time and just keep stepping them up. As a 10-year-old, my son Joel had an advantage because he had an outstanding horse – it made him rope more like a 13-year-old at that stage.
I see this at my schools so often, I don’t think I can ever say it enough. So many of you want to buy a nice young rope horse because you figure he’s healthy and sound and he’ll last longer. But did you realize how much his attitude and experience level will affect your roping?
A lot of times, people come and ask me if I know of any heel horses for sale because they’re not happy with how their horse is working. That’s when I ask them a question of my own. "Are you sure?" I ask. "Have you done everything you can to help your horse in his stop?"