THE SCI­ENCE OF SCORE

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Features - By Chad Masters, with Chelsea Shaf­fer

Chad Masters has made top horses a sta­ple of his ca­reer. Ask him what makes a great head horse, and he’ll start with how they score. But when Masters gets a lit­tle fur­ther into what makes a good-scor­ing mount, his an­swer might sur­prise you. by Chad Masters, with Chelsea Shaf­fer

Even

as pale skinned as I am, I went to a wa­ter park once when we were at a rodeo in Kis­sim­mee, Florida. (Stick with me here–you’ll un­der­stand how we re­late this to scor­ing soon.) They have this deal where you go get in a tube and they drop it straight out from un­der­neath you. It’s re­ally tall and scary, and I didn’t know what I was get­ting into. I wanted to get back down the stairs, but there were lit­tle girls in line, and I didn’t want to walk down past these lit­tle girls to get down. So I get in the tube, the guy run­ning the ride says to cross your arms and drop your legs, and when I do that, he’s go­ing to drop the bot­tom out from un­der me. So, I cross my arms, cross my legs, and the bot­tom im­me­di­ately drops out from un­der me.

A few months later, we go to Boise, Idaho, and I go to an­other wa­ter park. There’s this ride again, and my heart is beat­ing and ev­ery­one else is do­ing it. This lady tells me to cross my arms and feet, but this time when I do that, noth­ing hap­pens, and noth­ing hap­pens and this lady on this com­puter voice starts count­ing down—three, two, one—and I want this ride to go and be over with. You have to un­der­stand how bad I’m hat­ing this ride. So now, by the time she says launch off, my heart is ready to ex­plode out of my chest, and fi­nally the bot­tom drops out from un­der me and the ride is over be­fore I know it.

That has noth­ing to do with scor­ing, and ev­ery­thing to do with scor­ing. I’ve rid­den a lot of dif­fer­ent horses, and I’ve rid­den a lot of dif­fer­ent horses in a lot of dif­fer­ent boxes. And be­cause of that, I di­vide head horses into two cat­e­gories when it comes to their tem­per­a­ment in the box—some that can wait for the “launch off” and some that can’t. I don’t have a pref­er­ence on which type of horse I ride, but most good horses fit some­where on the spec­trum be­tween those two gen­er­al­i­ties.

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