Practicing with a Purpose
Pushing the Barrier by Speed Williams
When headed to the practice pen I always have an agenda in mind. Practicing for my horses is much different than practicing with or for my partner.
As a header, when I practice on my rodeo horses I want to make sure they do everything right. I try to make them score, run, and stay in my hand. Usually my corners are slower because I want to make sure my horse is under control. This is not the same kind of corner my partner gets when we’re practicing for an event.
When I’m practicing for my partner, I like to give him “full contact runs.” That means simulating full competition runs. I like to give my partner fast throws just like the shots he will need to make for us to win. If you don’t practice this, when the time comes he won’t be as comfortable or familiar with this shot as he needs to be.
These runs need to be limited, or made on a practice horse. Head horses have so much more to do than heel horses. Too many full contact runs can make your head horse short and quick.
When my horse works well I don’t make many runs on him. I have a new horse, Carmen, who I’ve been working on. We started out making eight or ten practice runs per session. Lately he’s been doing well, so now I only run two or three on him. As long as he continues to work the way I want him to, I won’t run very many on him.
My horse, Frisco, is my play toy to practice on. There have been some guys who have tried to buy him, but I tell them that he can’t run fast enough to be a good horse. I have fun on him and don’t want to sell him. His job is to let me work on my roping and to spin steers for my heelers.
It’s very important to find out what kind of steers you’ll be roping. It defeats the purpose if you practice on fresh steers and then end up roping big, worn out steers during competition.
What’s new with me: Due to my current herd of head horses, I’m going to leave home in July and rodeo for about 40 days to try and qualify for the winter rodeos. I’m going to attempt a run at a world title in 2013. I’m going to share this journey on my website as I upload all my runs and show a “behind the scenes” look at the rodeo trail. For more information and to hear my thoughts on this decision, visit my website at speedroping.com.