The aim of the Ask a Cowboy series is to talk to cowboys of all levels of experience. I ask several questions ranging from a cowboy's thoughts on training to their favorite heel rope. I interviewed my little brother, Daniel, who works at T-Cross Ranch in Colorado. We grew up rodeoing together and learned a lot together, but we don't necessarily do everything the same way.
At T-Cross Ranch, he said he has learned a lot about training and breeding horses. One of our very own rope horses came from T-Cross from the Smokin' Jose bloodline. One of the current studs at T-Cross is Cowtown's Cat.
One of the aspects of training is choosing the right bit. Meeske's favorite bit is a Kerrey Kelley correction. "It's a pretty simple bit that a lot of horses work good in," he said.
His favorite head rope is the Inferno Lonestar. "It's light and snappy but has some tip weight," he said. As for heel ropes, he prefers the Shark Extreme as "it's a heavier rope with a lot of body." I think it's important to know a cowboy's preference in ropes: it can say a whole lot, but it can mean a whole lot of nothing as well. What does body even mean? All I know is it's a good thing, and when I like a heel rope, I certainly describe it as having body.
Every horse has their own personality and, in Meeske's opinion, moving too quickly can slow the training process down. "With everything you do with a horse," Meeske said, "do not push one too fast where you have to slow down or go backwards."
Rodeo is a family sport and you can learn something from everyone. Meeske said the best training advice he's received is, "Stay focused on what you're trying to achieve," he said. "If you're working on one thing specifically and the horse does something else incorrectly, don't get sidetracked and correct it. Stick to what you're working on."
When it comes to difficult horses, sometimes it's hard to have patience and make sure you aren't teaching bad habits. "I've dealt with a few difficult horses and in most cases, nothing works better than just riding one down," he said.
When all else fails, sometimes getting a distracted or stubborn horse to focus means giving them a workout. Forget the things that seem so urgent to correct; give your horse and yourself a break. Always end a ride on a good note: loosen the horse's cinches where the hardest work was done to avoid a sour pony or take a walk around the arena asking your horse to respond to your hand.