By Speed Williams
The thing that will let you be most successful in roping, regardless of ability level, is being able to consistently catch your cattle. I see so many people who practice trying to make a fast run, when their time would be better spent trying to make clean runs on challenging cows. The first and last cow of the day is very important and I encourage my students to treat them like a high teamer they need to be under 11 seconds on, and try to make a clean run.
In the practice pen don’t pick and choose the best in the herd. Pick the worst in the herd to rope. The slow one, the steer that goes right, runs the rope, or checks off. Make it hard on yourself so when you get to the roping and draw that cow you have already run him numerous times and know how to overcome.
If you’re not having success on the cow, then figure out what your weakness is and what you need to do to fix it. If you have a cow you can’t catch, don’t pull him like most ropers do. Figure out what you need to do to catch him.
To have a better chance of figuring out exactly where your problem is, I highly recommend having someone video you in the practice pen. For this purpose I’m not a big fan of an iPhone or iPad because the zoom feature is not great. To see details you need to be filmed with a video camera so you can zoom in and see exactly what’s happening. I have always used a video camera and it’s been invaluable in my career. It allows me to see exactly what happened, whether it’s something I’ve done, my horse, or the steer and takes the guesswork out. Having someone on hand to film is just part of our routine.
Figuring out your weakness is similar to a math equation made up of roping fundamentals. Those fundamentals include angle of your swing, position of your horse, body position. All of those things play a part in what your loop does.
When you load up in the trailer and head to the roping, you need to know you can catch any steer they run in the chute. That confidence comes from how well you prepared at home. That’s why I recommend not scoring slow steers, runners, or steers that duck. Spend your effort working on the cow that will take you out of the roping.
If you need help figuring out why you’re missing, that’s where lessons come into play. Find someone who you want to learn from and get them to help you. Find someone who can show you how to catch that cow that eliminates you from competition.
What’s new with me: We haven’t been going to as many team roping jackpots lately. Hali got moved to a 5+ after the USTRC Finals and it has pretty much taken her out of the competition. Granted, for a 13 year-old girl she ropes well and did outstanding at the Finals, but the entries were limited and the set-up was very soft. Since then she has felt the pressure to go faster, which affected her catching percentage and handles, previously her strong points. Eventually she will become competitive as a 5+ but it make take a while. Consequently, she’s lost interest in team roping and has been focusing more on running barrels and breakaway roping. None of us expect to win every time but everyone wants to feel competitive and like they have a chance.
I’m still teaching lots of schools both at the indoor in Palo Pinto and away from home. Feel free to check out our vast library of instructional videos at speedroping.com.