This Month’s ExpertTyler Magnus
Rope horse trainer and top competitor Tyler Magnus grew up in the Kansas-Oklahoma Flint Hills working cattle, and today he trains horses for the public from his Mason, Texas, ranch. Magnus has one of the most distinguished résumés in professional roping—nine-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, NFR average title winner as a heeler in 1995, champion at the George Strait Team Roping Classic and member of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. In addition, Magnus hosts an RFD-TV show focusing on horsemanship and roping skills called Roping and Riding with Tyler Magnus.
In the June issue, Magnus lends his experience and advice to readers in “Sync Before You Swing,” an article outlining how to improve roping runs through better horsemanship. For more information on Tyler Magnus visit TylerMagnus.com.
Q: I got a new horse and don’t know much about his background. I ride in a saddle with a back cinch, but I have taken it off with the new horse. How can I introduce him to the back cinch where it doesn’t make him buck?
A: First, set it up to work. Make sure your hobble strap—the strap between front and back cinches—is short enough. Every horse has a curve to his belly. When the bottom of his stomach goes up toward the flank, make sure that is where the entire width of the back cinch is laying on the stomach. If it is too far forward, only the back of the cinch will touch; if it is too far back, only the front will touch. Make sure your hobble strap is short enough and don’t put it very tight at first.
Make sure you can at least put your hand between the cinch and the horse’s belly. If you put it too tight and the horse moves, it will pinch him in the middle. Walk the horse around with it looser, and then put the horse in the roundpen to move with the cinch. Take it slow so the horse gets used to it. When the horse moves the cinch tightens up. The tension on your back cinch is going to be affected.
Q: I have a 13-year-old calf mare that I bought from a good roper I know. She scores good for me, but when I do lean up and go after a calf, she runs through the bit and my hands. When I bought her, she always looked like she rated, but riding her I feel like she does what she wants. How can I work on her when she already scores in the box?
A: First, I’d look at the bit and how it is adjusted in the horse’s mouth. Second, I’d look at the tie-down and see if it is too long. Third, I’d look at the rider’s position. Are you jumping forward in the saddle to push the horse out of the box, and the horse is feeding off your body position? Mentally, you may be wanting the horse to slow down or stop, but physically, you may be leaning forward, squaring your right shoulder and giving the horse the reins.
A more seated position and properly adjusted equipment are important. If the horse is still charging out of the box, stop her. Don’t go all the way down the arena, but go a couple of strides and stop.
Watch as Tyler scores his horse in this video:
Q: I just started tracking cattle so I could do versatility, so I need to be able to box and get where I can rope the steer. What’s the right way to track a steer, because I see people doing a lot of different things, but I don’t want to start off wrong with my horse.
A: Think of your horse’s position as lanes in the highway. Where the steer is in the right lane, we are in the left. Now, this is really for a head horse or someone doing steer stopping in the versatility. If I passed that horse, I want my right knee to pass by the steer’s horns, and that’s how wide or far off the steer I’d be. I want the horse’s nose to be at the steer’s ribs and not further back than the tail. This varies a little because of the horse’s stride and the rider’s comfort. If I’m on a big, 16-hand horse, then I want to be back a little further toward the tail.
If the horse doesn’t rate at all, or stay with the steer, we need to work on stopping and backing him up every time his nose gets past the steer’s ribs. Stop. It’s a wonder how stopping can keep a horse from making a mistake. If the horse wants to suck back and be slow, then work on really getting the horse to step up to the steer.
View more horsemanship articles HERE.
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If you’d like to submit a question, please email [email protected] by May 25. Please include your full name, city and state in your inquiry. Depending on the volume of questions received, some questions may not be answered. Western Horseman retains the right to edit submissions for clarity.