Ask The Pros with Charles Pogue

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To Feed or Not To Feed
Dear Charles,
I've been wondering if it is O.K. to not feed your rope when heading. I've found it easier to just start with the same loop that I deliver to the horn. That's one less step that I have to do before I throw. What are the pros and cons of this?
Thanks,
Tim, Leesville, La.

Dear Tim,
The advantage of starting with a smaller loop is that it's easier to get your swing started. For a lower-numbered roping, it's probably not quite as important. When your rodeoing, it's important to start with a smaller loop because when you feed it you get some extra momentum on the tip of your rope. You don't have to do it. Everybody at the pro level does. It's an advantage to do it, but it's not a must. It will just take you a little longer to get your rope up and get it going when you start out with the size of loop you're going to use to rope with.

A Barrier to Success
Dear Charles,
Hi, I've been roping now for about five years. I'm a No. 4 header. I don't have any trouble finding runs when I go to a roping, because the higher number guys are looking for a lower number roper. I turn my cows very consistent, I worked really hard on learning how to handle my cows. That's one thing I have really concentrated on this past year, and I feel like I've done a good job on that. I'm ready to step up my game now though, and I need to learn how to get out better. Not just three out of ten, but on every cow.

I sit there at a roping and watch the score line and know what I'm supposed to see, but I seem to draw the odd cows out of the bunch. It seems like I'm so scared of breaking the barrier that I usually get out a little late. I catch most of my cows from half way to three quarters of the way down the pen. I ride a nice little seven-year-old bay gelding. He's a good horse with plenty of run, but I still want to get out good on every cow not just here and there.

My question is, what can I do in the practice pen to improve my start from the gate?
Thank Y'all a bunch,
Landon, Smithdale, Miss.

Dear Landon,
It's hard to tell for sure, but in the practice pen you need to practice scoring to make sure your horse is scoring properly. But when you're running steers in the practice pen, practice seeing the steer to a certain point and taking the start of leaving there when you want to. Make sure your horse isn't running through your hand when you leave, make sure you are releasing him to leave. Whatever the measurements are at most of the ropings you go to, practice seeing the steers where you normally would at the roping in the practice pen. It's good to practice your starts in the practice pen rather than just leaving when it's convenient.

If I'm going to someplace where I know it's a fast set up, I'm going to practice that. I just want to make sure my horse is standing there real quiet and starting when I release him.

Are Blinders an Option?
Dear Charles,
I've recently bought a 10-year-old horse. He has been roped on 12 times or so before I bought him and 150 plus since I've owned him. When we go to the practice pen or especially at a roping, he will swerve way hard left right after the box. We are pretty sure he is jumping away from the chute. I've really worked hard on it and have made progress in the practice pen. When we were at a roping he did it twice. I don't want to quit him at all because he is really, really fast and puts me right where I need to be, but if he keeps costing me time he'll have to go. I was told to put a blinder on his right eye.

This is my question: Is the blinder the best thing to do?
Thanks,
Blake, Wynnewood, Okla.

Dear Blake,
Well, I don't know and I don't know what the horse's history is or if he's shying from the chute, the steer or trying to duck a little bit. I see what you're talking about, but I'm not sure about the blinder. What I would do is get a breakaway rope, and when I'm practicing, make your horse break real tight over toward the chute and really make him run right to the steer and breakaway rope some.

What you're trying to do is get him really patterned where he can just leave there and go hunt the steers up. Leave out turning them off and stuff like that for a little bit. Make him start looking for those steers.

Roping for Dummies
Dear Charles,
Can you get into bad habits from dummy roping?
I noticed I use my feet a lot when I am working on the ground, but when I get on my horse it seems like I try to stand and reach in the saddle. Is that bad?
Thanks,
Ashley, Thornton, Texas

Dear Ashley,
Dummy roping can create bad habits. If you're roping smaller-horned dummies or something. Plus, you can get away without doing it completely correctly and still catch sometimes. Try roping some with a little bigger horns. I also rope a dummy all different ways. I'll stand there flat-footed and practice roping it some like that-the point is no matter what my lower body is doing I'm still comfortable making my loop go where I want it. I vary my dummy roping a lot.

Rookie Reaction
Dear Charles,
What's it like roping at your first Wrangler NFR? Is there a lot of pressure on you when you ride in the box or do you tend to stay relaxed?
Huck,
Kingman, Ariz.

Dear Huck,
It's probably the most tense before you get there, wondering what it's going to be like. If you've roped enough to get to that point, you're going to be pretty confident in what you're doing.

Once you get there and it starts, you realize you're just going and roping another steer. SWR