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Taming the Beast

Story by Julie Mankin   Spin to Win Magazine / May 2012 

stw may 2012You could say that a guy who's headed to the NFR nine times and won the average there knows what it takes to win. So this winter when Tyler Magnus somehow squeezed in a few rodeos between roping schools in Arizona and Kansas, his ride was a big 16-year-old bay gelding named Beast.

"That horse is seasoned and solid," said Magnus. "I knew when I backed in there, he'd be honest. That is what gives you confidence, and that is what the guys have that are winning."

Before Magnus bought Beast fro a friend in South Texas, the horse had never been to a rodeo in his life. But he'd been everywhere else and was easily mature enough for the big time. in November, Magnus sold the horse to NFR-hopeful header (and four-time bareback riding champion) Bobby Mote.

"Bobby let me ride him in Denver," said Magnus, who was teamed with Brandon Bates. "We won the qulifier and then came back and placed in the rodeo. And Bobby won money on him in Denver and Tuscon."

To Magnus, the head-horse part of the equation makes or breaks success in team roping - especially the ability of a horse like Beast to score perfectly every single time.

"For me, 80 percent of my heading is scoring," said Magnus. "if I can score perfectly, I know I'll have a chance to use my rope for money."

Here's an interesting theory from Magnus - scoring requires a confidence all it's own.

"You cannot be consistent at scoring until you're confident about what is going on in the arena," he pointed out. "You can't back in the box and be thinking about everything except riding. So until you're a confident roper, your scoring will probably suffer."

On that dismal note, here is a tip that can help - break your run down into steps, like you would if you were going in for a layup or kicking a field goal, so the pressure of the entire run isn't overwhelming.

Think about the past 10 steers you ran. Did you score them six different ways because you were so wound up about what you were going to do with your rope?

"That's putting the cart in front of the horse," said Magnus. "Everything you do as a header stems from your departure from the box."

Her's the irony - if you ride the line with perfect balance, it's easier to ride to a better position, which allows you a higher percentage delivery, which gives you...confidence. Lt's go back to the step-by-step approach. Why would you bring your rope up before you even have enough balance in your saddle to use it?

"You think you might be able to catch quicker if you get your arm cocked off in the corner," said Magnus. "But then you nod and your horse shoots you over the back of your saddle and now you are right behind the steer, hanging on the bit and wondering why your horse won't rate."

Often, as you bring your right hand back to stage your first swing, your left hand comes up. That makes you lift on your horse's mouth, which makes him hop up as he leaves the box. Why be thinking about your delivery first when it is the last thing that you will do?"

Obviously, the longer you own your horse, the more you will understand how to help him score his best. But with every horse, the more you'll understand how to help him score his best. But with every horse, the number one key is being consistent not just with your left hand, but with your seat.

"A horse scores just as much off your weight shifting in the saddle as he does from rein pressure," says Magnus. "Horses are creatures of habit. The more consistent your weight in the saddle, the more consistent your horse will score."

Basically, any day that you work more on your roping than your riding is a not a beneficial day. Magnus leaves you with a great mantra - "You catch a steer with your hore, not your arm."

He likely won't hit any big rodeos without a horse like Beast, but he's having more fun taking his kid's Truman, Ruby, and Scout, to their own rodeos. Magnus also has a few other things going, like [a new in-house product line to design], horses to train and sell, private lessons to give and more than 30 clinics annually to give around the country.

Roping & Riding with Tyler Magnus is in its second season on RFD-TV, airing every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET and Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. The Texas Cowboy Hall of Famer (he has won the George Strait Classic heeling) also recently came out with a new DVD called Roping & Riding Faster: Heeling. Watch for the heading version any day now at tylermagnus.com.