GAME PLAN

How to get your chargy head horse to back off.

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Departments - with Lo­gan Ol­son

RUN­NING BLIND

Head horses can get heavy in the bri­dle and start run­ning blind down the arena. They lose their tar­get, that com­fort spot. Of­ten, this is caused by a horse be­ing asked to go at steers full con­tact over and over again. Think of it like a re­ceiver in foot­ball: If a re­ceiver is asked to go as hard as he can down the field to catch a ball and, as soon as he catches the ball, he gets hit by a cor­ner­back or safety, even­tu­ally he’s go­ing to flinch and miss the ball for fear of the hit.

FOR THE HORSE

I don’t go full con­tact much. I’m nearly al­ways rop­ing for my horses. Foot­ball play­ers don’t go full con­tact in prac­tice— they work on small, spe­cific el­e­ments, then put it all to­gether in com­pe­ti­tion.

BACK­ING OFF

I like slow steers in the prac­tice pen. I want my horse in my hand, un­der con­trol. If he’s not, I’ll stop him with a con­stant pres­sure and ask him to relax and try again. I’m not jerk­ing him into the ground or yank­ing on his face, be­cause that will cause him to stick his head up in the air or even worse, rear up. Then, you’ll have two prob­lems. I want him to know that he can relax when I pull.

RE­PEAT

Some­times, I’ll only need to stop a horse once. Some­times, five times. Some­times, I’ll spend a month or more on this. I’ll let them go as long as I feel like I have con­trol, let­ting them catch up to the steer at their own speed. Any time I feel like I don’t have con­trol, we’ll stop and try again. When they can catch up and know where they’re sup­posed to get to, that’s the re­ward.

WHEN IN DOUBT

If I’m re­ally wor­ried about one be­ing too strong, I’ll drop the rope un­til I can lope be­hind the steer 20 foot. Then I’ll swing a rope 20 foot be­hind him like I’m trail­ing him across the pas­ture. Then I’ll lope be­hind him and break­away them. We’ll do it for months if we have to.

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