Ask the Pros with Colter Todd

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Hi-Yo Silver
Dear Colter,
I have a young head horse that is working really well, but lately he has not been leaving the box flat every trip like he always has. He is quiet in the box and leaves off of my hand. He does not come up in the front end every trip, and when he does he levels back out right at the barrier. He is really light and I could be getting in his mouth when he starts to leave and not realizing it. Any suggestions before it becomes habit?
John, Lubbock, Texas

Dear John,
When my horses start hopping a lot of times I'll start walking and then call for the steer. I walk forward so my horse isn't just standing there and thinking about running. That way, he'll stay down and learn that he can ease across there a little bit until he gets more confident just standing there. I do that with my good horse every now and then. He doesn't know it's coming, but I'll call for my steer and then just ease out after him and go catch him.

Rope Treatment
Dear Colter,
Do you make sure all your ropes feel good? I buy a lot of ropes that have a back swing to them. It takes just as much work to keep them open as it does to catch. I swing them in the stores before I buy them but if the weather changes they get a backswing to them. Is this something you deal with or should I figure out how to use the iller feeling ropes?
Thanks,
Russel, Roseburg, Ore.

Dear Russel,
With my ropes, I get them out of the box, stretch them, rope 10 steers and then try to keep them in a cooler environment and not let them get in the heat or direct sun. That is usually what affects the string and causes them to get a backswing, kink or something that doesn't feel right. Try to keep them in cooler temperatures.

The Right Rate?
Dear Colter,
I'm a No. 4 header. My horse rates better on slow cattle than he does on faster ones that tend to run hard then slow down a little when you close on them. I'm trying to rope on the way to the steer. I seem to wave some off doing that because when I'm pulling my slack I'm still gaining on the steer. Should I be taking more time to get my horse rated then rope the steer? What's the best practice for my horse to help this problem?
Thanks,
Buckshot, Mesa, Ariz.

Dear Buckshot,
Make sure you're not getting into a hurry with your horse, where you're beating him to the throw and he's not ready to get collected, he's still working on the run. Make sure you're always consistent on setting everything up so he gets rated before you throw-don't worry about roping coming to the steer just yet. The one thing you don't want to take out of a horse is his run. Run him up there and collect him and then rope.

In A Rut
Dear Colter,
Do you ever feel like you're in a rut and every time you practice things just go wrong? I'm in that situation and I feel terrible.
Please help me,
Tarren, Oliver, B.C. Canada

Dear Tarren,
That all sounds to me like it's all mental stuff going on. When I get in a rut, I try not to look at the negative stuff or the stuff that's going wrong and go back to the past and look at the good stuff I have done. When you go out to practice, always look at the positive stuff and get your mind thinking positive again instead of just trying to compensate for stuff that's causing you to keep messing up. If you're always thinking positive, positive things will happen.
Me or My Horse?

Dear Colter,
I only have one horse, so when I practice, should I practice off him like he is my good horse or my practice horse?
Levi, Bertram, Texas

Dear Levi,
That depends on what you're trying to accomplish and where you're trying to go. If you're wanting to rope for a living, you want to practice most of the time for you horse, as a good horse. Once a week practice for yourself. Always think, 'O.K., as long as my horse is handling, I can practice for myself.'

Horsepower
Dear Colter,
At ropings, my head horse is really good for the first couple rounds but by the last round she really doesn't pull as well as she can. I can put on spurs and that fixes that problem but then she starts to fade left when I throw. Usually when this happens I rip my loop off the horns. Is there an exercise to fix this?
Thank you,
Jacob, Tishomingo, Okla.

Dear Jacob,
I don't know that there's a practice for it. When you're at the house and just riding, you might pull a log a little more to get her in better shape so she can handle more runs and pull more. Otherwise, if she's too small or something is hurting her so much that she won't work you might need to consider getting a new horse. You don't want to hinder her from working good by torturing her. You need to figure out the reason she's not working good or why she's starting to dread that run rather than wanting to work good for you. SWR