Tonka is the horse I've ridden everywhere, and we've had him for two years. When I first got him, he was free running and wanted to pick up his from feet. So we went through growing pains with that, and now all I have to do is keep him legged up throughout the week.
I bought the horse Alex Flautt-Loiselle rode to tie me for the win at the San Angelo Roping Fiesta this fall, and his name is Conrad. He really complements Tonka's style. He's little, he's low-headed, he can really run and he runs all the way to the calf. He doesn't ever take your throw away. But that doesn't mean I didn't have to adjust some things when I started riding him.
Secret's in the Start
Conrad can get nervous in the corner, so it's critical that I spend my time in the practice pen keeping him relaxed. I ride him every day, and I score a lot of calves. I keep him moving. I’ll score one, then lope him down the arena, then score another one. Then when I do run another one, the main thing is that breakaway is so fast and it depends so much on the start. I want them all flat across the line. I want to keep my horses almost pulling on the bit—not taking the bit, but letting him throttle and stay low across the line. So much is on the start in the breakaway, that I really focus my practice with Conrad on that.
Breakaway Bit Adjustments
With my good horse Tonka, I am constantly changing bits. If he gets free, I put more bit on him. But then he'll get tight because he gets dead to a bit quickly. I always laugh at my dad, because any time I try a horse, he'll walk out of the barn with 10 bits. Right now I'm riding him in a Gordy Alderson Copper Bar Port. I've got to ride Tonka in a leather curb, too, because anything with a chain will make him toss his head.
For Conrad, I ride him in a Sonny Silva Roller Bit, because it keeps his attention in the corner and is the perfect medium for how he works and what I'm trying to accomplish at the start. BRJ