November 14, 2011
Learn what the ideal team roping heading run should look like with AQHA Professional Horseman Gary Wells.
For more insight from Gary on training a heading horse, check out “Is He Cheating You?” in the October 2011 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal.
I started team roping a few years ago, but I’ve mainly been competing at jackpot ropings. I’d like to train my horse to be competitive in judged ropings, but in order to do so I’d like to know what the ideal heading run should look like.
In an ideal heading run, the horse runs up and rates off the steer when I rope. When I dally, I want to pick up on that horse, and I want to feel him collect on his rear end for the set for the heeler.
The horse should start slowing the steer while they’re both moving forward. After I set the steer, I start logging him across the pen.
His collection should still be in the rear end as he’s turning and logging. The rope will be behind the horse as we log. This is how the horse handles the steer, and it’s a big mark on the scorecard.
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When I give my horse the signal, I want him to collect, plant a back leg and come around and face.
After horses have faced a few times, though, they start anticipating it. When the rope comes tight, they’re collecting themselves and preparing for the face, and I don’t have to rein the horse around.
The head horse’s job is to be in control of the situation. When a good head horse is in the wrong position, he’ll step over to be in the right position.
– AQHA Professional Horseman Gary Wells