angle-left JoJo Lemond’s Tips for Training a Head Horse

JoJo Lemond’s Tips for Training a Head Horse

The $1 million PRCA roper focuses on dry-work drills to keep his horses sharp.
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By Lindsay Keller with Tara Matsler for Performance Horse Journal

Team roping header JoJo Lemond, with $1 million in Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association earnings, says dry work is a big part of his program for training head horses. That goes for both young horses and finished rodeo horses.

“One of the exercises I do with all of my horses is to lope in a left-hand circle and ask them to counter-arc. My horse is in the left lead, but his nose is tucked to the right and his ribcage is bent around my right leg,” says the four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Andrews, Texas.

“After loping in this position for a few circles, I ask the horse to step through and face. Then I back up a few steps.

“I like this drill for teaching young horses to face, but I also warm up my rodeo horses with this drill to make sure their bodies are loose and they are paying attention to my hands and feet,” JoJo explains.

JoJo likes to do a drill with a cedar post, working at a walk or trot.

“When I am walking or trotting in a right-hand circle and pulling the cedar log, I still keep that horse’s body bent around my right leg. I like to pull the log until I can tell the horse is getting tired or he’s looking for a break. Then I ask him to step around and face so that the facing becomes the reward. I face him up, undally my rope, and then back up a few steps. I really work on keeping my horse soft, flexible and willing to move his feet. You can’t let the horse get stiff or sticky,” JoJo says.

JoJo does not face very often while roping steers for practice.

“I don’t ever want my horse to anticipate that face, so I prepare for it with my dry work,” JoJo says. “I usually only ask my horse to face when I am roping in competition. Rather than facing my heeler when he finishes pulling his slack in the practice pen, I undally my rope, keep my horse counter-arced around my right leg with his ribcage lifted, and just keep pushing the horse back toward the boxes.”