Amazin, I have heard the toothpicks in the eyelids before, never tried it, thought it was one of those things people says works but don't actually do themselves. Then I thought well maybe that's why I see all these boys walking a round with a half a box of toothpicks stuffed into the ribbon of their hat...hmmm. I like the Tabasco, instead of carrying LA in the medicine bag, I will put in a bottle of hot sauce...
Then talking about the bubble and getting chased...we have had a few that you couldn't get within roping distance and come up and challenge you. This wouldn't probably work for you since you work solo. But if there was a couple of us we would take our jackets off make a line, and then charge up to him screaming like a bunch of drunk indians waving our jackets. Usually they were just trying to bluff us because they had gotten away with it before and they would turn and run and we could get them roped....then they got Copenhagen in the eye too. But even if it didn't really work..it was fun and usually someones horse starts bucking...good times. That is what it is all about, doing a good job and having fun doing it. It's not like it pays good, so you have to love it and have fun.
Roping outside is hard compared to chasing a single steer straight down the arena...your doing the same shot over and over again. I am not knocking team roping, but it is just different. Roping the dummy like you said is the biggest help. I do the same. But my dummy isn't as cool as yours, "Steve" is just a sawhorse I bought from Home Depot and screwed a calf head on to. I need to get one with horns too.
Even if I am not on a horse, I will walk around it and adjust my tip angle to my position I am to the calf/steer. Or like you said get on a horse and do it and practice certain shots. Like my husband taught me is you want to create the "V" shot. The higher degree of angle you are(up to 90*) the higher chance you have to catching. So if I am running straight behind a steer my chances are low because I am running the same angle also my loop will be flat side to side but probably tip down in front of my horses nose. If the calf is coming out of a corner and I am at a 45* angle to him my chances went way up. If the calf is running from my left to the right then my tip is going to match that by almost using a side arm and mimicking the angle. If he runs directly straight across in front of me and I am perpendicular to him at a 90*, then I will use a side arm, loop will be at 90*. Like my husband says you can look like a decent roper , even if your not, if you use your horse and set up your shots. I have to practice this on the dummy...I have bad habits. And after last weeks roping display I was pretty disgusted with myself. I have been roping the dummy every time I walk by it and bought one of those little kiddy ropes for inside the house... my little Mexican dog has gotten wise and won't walk past me in the living room if I have it in my hand...little turd got smart fast. Those trashy roping steers are a pain to rope too...they are just flat out disrespectful. We had a couple last fall to play with. They didn't like getting heeled so if you didn't make an effort to push out to the right before you positioned your horse they would run to the left and try to rimfire who ever has him necked. Or they would lay down and sull up...not much fun to rope.
Elessar, good luck roping the dummy, then get you a couple of gentle steers to play with, something gentle where you can ride up and pull your rope off and don't make a big production out of....then after you get tired of them and wear them out...have a bbq.