Effective and Fun Practice
Written by: Speed Williams< Back to Articles
Teaching people to rope, and improve their roping, is what I do for a living. I enjoy teaching riding and roping and seeing the improvements people make. I think it’s important to be ready to rope when you get to your cow, especially with the popularity of the World Series ropings and their barrier.
One of the big conversations I have with parents is about the practice pen. I absolutely believe kids need to make their horses work correctly. They need to prepare their horses for competition by mastering the fundamentals of scoring, running across the line, rating, pulling, and facing…. But it also needs to be fun.
If at all possible, kids need a practice horse in addition to the horse they compete on. Because, when getting your horse ready for competition and working at the fundamentals described above, it’s not necessarily helping your roping. The focus is on the horse and what he needs to do. I think kids need to have a horse to ride so they can work on their roping. A horse they can practice on and test their ability without worrying about how their horse is working.
In the practice pen when someone tells me he can catch 15 in a row without missing, I think that’s a guy who’s not challenging himself. To truly improve and be prepared, it’s important to work at different scenarios… not just make the same runs over and over. Having a good practice horse, that you don’t have to train, makes this enjoyable. I believe you have to ride your competition horse differently than your practice horse. The reason a practice horse is so valuable is it allows you to work on what you need to do to be faster.
A great practice horse is one that scores just a little and leaves flat across the line. He may not be the fastest, but you can practice riding, swinging, and roping. The same goes for heel horses. They don’t need to be fast, but they do need to stop correctly. Practice horses need to be good enough that kids can work and focus on their roping.
Some parents have a tendency to make their kids do everything correctly in the practice pen and the kids don’t really have a chance to enjoy it. I don’t disagree that they need to work at their roping, but the fact is, if they don’t enjoy it they will find something else to do.
There are many beneficial videos on speedroping.com for kids and adults. If you want to watch some of my daughter’s runs with my tips, visit the site and do a search with her name, Hali. Most are free to watch.