By Speed Williams
Working with professional ropers is quite different than working with my usual students. Dustin Egusquiza lives fairly close and has been coming over and roping with us. He is completely phenomenal with a rope but wants to work on his horsemanship and how he prepares his horses for jackpots.
He and Jake Long are new partners this year and had their second practice session at my place. I watched them rope and then we went in and watched the video. Their “go fast” runs were wild. The degree of difficulty was off the chart, but it was sure fun to watch. I first met Jake when Coleman brought him to the house. I’m still completely amazed by his ability.
Understanding your weaknesses or what will eliminate you at jackpots is key. Working on what you don’t do well is the name of the game. One of the things Dustin has been working on is learning to use his horse better. After a few days of this, he went to a jackpot and won second on a horse he’s owned for a few years. He told me had a couple of things happened there for the first time. He had three different headers tell him how fast his horse was – and that his horse looks good. He had never heard that before at a jackpot. It’s because he has always used his ability and reaching rather than using his feet to make his horse work.
These guys are so talented and such pros. I’ve been blown away by their willingness to try the things I’ve asked them to do. I cut their ropes off where they only had one coil and then asked them to go fast. This forces them to use their horse and not just use their ability to overcome what the horse doesn’t do. It’s important to prepare your horse for when you leave home and not just get by him in the practice pen. How you prepare on your good horses versus how you prepare on your practice horses is totally different. Consistently making full contact runs on your horses gets them strong in the bridle and not responding as well, especially if you rope bigger, older steers. I am a firm believer in setting up my practice situation to be harder than it will be when I leave home. That’s one of the reasons we practice on fresh mulies. Heelers can dally and it exposes how much control you really have of your head horse.
Before roping steers in the practice pen I have them do drills on the Speed Trainer. Even with some of the best ropers in the world, the Speed Trainer will expose small things that are done incorrectly. If you’re pulling too much while swinging your rope it lets you know. That’s one of the biggest problems ropers have as a whole. They use the bridle reins for balance and are not able to guide their horse lightly to the steer.
One of the most fun things about working with top ropers is they can change things very fast after watching themselves on video. You don’t get to be a #9 header or #10 heeler without control of your rope. I loaded video of their first practice session on speedroping.com. I will load their individual videos talking about their horses, what they did wrong, and what we did to make their horses work better. Then we’ll show the before and after and talk about the change in their horses. It’s been fun having them here and watching them rope.
What’s new with me: After a long search, we have found a place and are under contract. We left Deleon, Texas, several years ago, moved all over the state to end up back just 11 miles from where we started.