THE SCIENCE OF SCORE
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
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.