Ask The Pros with Matt Sherwood

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Feeding Questions
Matt,
I was wondering what kind of feeding regimen you have your horses on (grass hay, grass alfalfa mix, whole oat or pellets). Do you feed all your horses the same? Also do you give them any feed supplements? I know there are a lot of options, what's best?Thanks,
Bud, Portland, Ore.

Bud,
The feeding regimen that I have my horses on is different for all my horses. My good horses I feed alfalfa hay and I supplement them with a feed called Cool Fuel. It's a coconut-based product and it's the only grain we give them. It's a high-protein, high-oil content feed but it doesn't have the starches in it that other feeds have so it doesn't get your horse high and on the muscle.

I've got some younger horses that I feed alfalfa to but don't feed the grain to just because it gets expensive. I have a handful of younger horses I'm just trying to make. When I get them to the point I want to compete on them, I'll get them on a more strict diet.

A Deeper Seat
Matt,
When I leave the box I have a bad habit of bouncing in the saddle. I feel like I'm not leaving with my horse and trying to catch up.
Thanks,
DeWayne, Nesbit, Miss.

DeWayne,
I think it's real important-depending on how well you ride-to leave the box with your rope tucked and holding on to the saddle horn. Bend your back at the waist and lean forward just a little bit as you hold on to the saddle horn-especially if the barrier is long enough that you don't have to be swinging immediately. You can hold the saddle horn and leave with your horse so you're totally under control and not rocked back in the saddle. Then when you do start to swing, it's going to be a lot smoother and make roping steers a lot easier. Being in control is the first key to consistent roping. If you have a good, solid foundation, you'll be able to go fast eventually.

Turn a Steer Step by Step
Matt,
What is the best way to turn a steer step by step?
Dalton, Lolo, Mont.

Dalton,
I think once you rope the steer, you want to get all your slack out while your horse is still looking at the steer. Get a dally and when you begin to dally, you want to begin to get your horse to widen out-still looking forward-but starting to widen out. When that steer's head starts to come around, you want to let your horse get down on his butt and quarter more and start to turn to pull the steer. As the steer's head starts to turn, your horse starts to turn so it's a smooth transition and it begins to pull the steer and helps you pull him as evenly as possible. An even pull gives your heeler the best opportunity for a clean shot.

Size Matters
Matt,
What is the correct width and length of a good team roping arena?
Rane, Huntsville, Texas

Rane,
I think the best dimensions are a minimum of 150 feet wide by 300 feet long. If you can have a longer arena, it's good. Lower-numbered ropers ought to have a little bit longer arena. Know Your Enemy

Matt,
When I draw a steer at an event, how can I know how he is going to react? A lot of guys I know from the higher level seem to know what is going to happen.
Thanks,
Daniel, St. Cuthbert, Quebec

Daniel,If you watch the very top ropers, they will watch the steers go through. If you see 100 steers go through, you can't remember every single steer. So what you want to try to do is remember the steers that stand out from the rest. If a steer runs extremely fast, if a steer runs extremely slow, if a steer goes left, if a steer sets up-remember them. Pick out the steers that do something different than the normal, running straight down the arena. When you see a steer that does anything different, remember him. When you draw a steer that you remember, you'll be prepared for him. If you don't remember him, he's probably pretty much like the rest of the herd. That is what the top guys do. It's real important to watch the steers go. That's how you win. Jake Barnes is phenomenal about watching steers and being able to tell you what they will do.

Colt Starting
Matt,
What is the best way to start a three- to five-year-old colt heading? Just get out there and do it, or start tracking some steers first?
Thanks,
Jason, Early, Texas

Jason,
For me, the best way to start a three- to five-year-old horse on steers that we'll assume has been ridden and is fairly well-broke is by tracking a lead steer and heeling him-even for a head horse. Teach the horse to follow a steer. When you throw the rope, stop. Teach your horse to use his butt, gather himself and begin to stop. Once you have a horse that will follow a steer, collect himself and stop, then you can start roping slower steers out of the box and they're already following steers and used to stopping when you throw the rope. It makes an easy transition for you to work from. You can throw and stop and start to widen your horse.