with Allen Bach
hools I have hosted lately, I find myself approaching them a lot like a coach would watch a potential player in basketball. I like to sit back and see what fundamentals the ropers have; like basketball, where you can watch their ball handling skills, their defense, if they are a scorer, you can do the same with roping. I watch their rope handling skills, their horsemanship and their hands and feet, especially their left hand. From this starting point, like any sport for that matter an individual can determine what areas they can improve and what areas they are strong in during a run.
When you start roping pretty good, if you’re not careful, confidence can turn into a combination of ego and pride that can intimidate the people around you – even your own partner.
I’ve seen it a lot. Somebody is finally roping sharp and on top of their game and everyone is patting him on the back. Then that guy starts subconsciously intimidating his partner. The minute the partner messes up, the guy might sigh or throw his head a little. Or maybe he won’t say anything to the person for about the first 100 miles.
I love when headers say they’d win more if they had a better heeler behind them. Like when Clay Tryan won first, second and third at the Windy Ryon last year and people said, “Well sure, he had the three best heelers in the world.”
Obviously, the keys to heeling are position, swing, timing and delivery. But if you ask great heelers, “What’s truly the meat-and-potatoes of heeling?” I think they would say, “being at the right place at the right time.”
What makes people “ooh and aahh” when they watch Jade Corkill? It’s not necessarily his swing or his timing. You may not realize it, but he has an amazing talent for positioning. Reading the corner is huge, whether you’re a #4 heeler coming around there at a truck roping or a #8 coming in during a big-money #13 roping. Even guys at the NFR make mistakes reading the corner.