By Speed Williams
From the very beginning, from a very young age, while teaching my son to rope I stressed the fundamentals of riding correctly. I taught him to heel steers very close to him because it gave him more time to dally. But to heel steers that close, you must use your left hand and have control of your horse.
When looking for horses for my son, there were two major “no-no’s” that would keep me from buying a horse. One, if they stopped on their front end and didn’t have any kind of slide. No matter how good they were in the box, arena, or corner, if they didn’t have a smooth stop, I tried to stay away from them. It really affects your dally if your horse plants all four feet in the ground. The other major “no-no” is a horse that will not kick up and move forward if something happens to the dally. When we tried a couple that wouldn’t walk forward easily, the risk was not worth the reward for me.
I’m proud that at 15 years old, Gabe is a #9 heeler. I give a lot of credit to the time we’ve spent using the Speed Trainer, that Priefert built for me. It’s been invaluable for working on fundamentals like being balanced in his saddle, using his feet and left hand correctly. By sitting still and working on those things he was able to learn to set a “gate” and sweep it under, and all the different deliveries a heeler needs. I’ve told him as a heeler you cannot have just one shot, because you don’t always get to the same spot. You need to be able to create the math angles in your mind that your position creates.
There are many different deliveries a heeler needs to be capable of. I have guys tell me they want to get in one position and throw their rope the same every time. I don’t agree because it’s difficult to get in the same position when you heel behind multiple headers. The life of a heeler is overcoming the obstacles the header and head horse create for you. If they do their job correctly, heeling becomes much easier. If they don’t do their job correctly, then it becomes defense, and you have to overcome whatever happens. Believe it or not, I have more heelers than headers that come for lessons. I am staying booked with private lessons, both during the day and evening. With the success Hali has had, I’m getting more girls sign up for breakaway lessons.
One of the big conversations Gabe and I have had pertains to him being a #6 header. There is a lot to be won in jackpots since he can head in the #12 and #13. However, we have a long way to go in our heading. He ropes the horns good but gets excited when he catches and his handles, to say the least, are a little wild. It’s that time of year when team ropers flock to Arizona and he wants me to rope in all the Open ropings there. We are entered in the WSTR Open in Vegas. I’ve told him if we can stay away from the top 15, we have a chance to compete. He is adamant we have a chance, but I’m trying to explain that we can keep our money together better if we stay away from those 30 guys.
It truly is a dream come true to stay booked teaching something I love to do… and be able to teach my kids and be around them while I do it. But that time is quickly coming to an end. My daughter is gone more days of the week than she is home, and she takes my wife with her. My son turns 16 this month and he’s at the stage that he thinks they can’t have a rodeo or roping without him. One thing I can say is both kids truly love roping and they’ve done well learning horsemanship.
The question I’m getting now days is, “Are you going to rodeo with your son when he turns 18?” I’ve had a few clients offer to sponsor us and I’ve said I will have to wait and see the condition of my body and the horses we have. I hope to find him someone a lot younger than me to do that with. He’s already reserved his mama to be his driver like she was for Hali this year. That’s one thing I will say about my wife…she is a professional driver, videographer, and helper. You can ask anyone who rodeoed during my time how much my wife did to help us. Her famous saying is “Marry a cowboy, have rodeo babies, it will be easy.” She hasn’t been home much this year and it’s not looking good for next year either.
If you’re in Las Vegas for the World Series Finals and you’re interested in seeing what the Speed Trainer is about, reach out to me. I’ll give you a little demo on how hard it is to do things correctly. It’s easy to rope on, but it’s hard to use your feet and hands correctly. One of the most important things in roping is improving your horsemanship and using your feet, hands, and body correctly and not just using your rope.
What’s new with me: I’ve been loading videos at speedroping.com of Gabe and me roping at jackpots and rodeos. We got to rope at Ben Clements Open roping. The first round was a Poison round, the second was a Salinas set up, the third was a mini-Pendleton Round, the fourth was a Prescott set up and the fifth was mulies. It was a neat experience for my son to get to rope in those situations. We’ve had some chances in the Open ropings, but dad hasn’t been holding up his end very well. Gabe is really looking forward to going to Arizona and trying his luck out there heeling.