Get Started With Your Horse In This True Team Event
What is team roping and how does one get started? This may be a
question on your mind, especially if you have not been around the rodeo
Getting started in this event, as with most
other events, will likely require consulting a professional in the
You need someone to help make the right decisions about horses,
equipment, and showing. Below we will be discussing a breakdown of team
roping along with some helpful hints to getting started.
Below you will also find helpful hints for competing in this class
along with ideas to get started in competition.
team roping, two riders compete together as
a team. One horse works as a "header" and one as a "heeler" while
roping the same steer. Both riders must work as a team, with skill and
In this event, each rider begins from a box on either side of a chute.
One rider on one side of the chute and the other rider on the opposite
side of the chute. The steer enters the arena from the chute with a
little extra, pre-determined time before the riders follow.
Once the steer reaches this pre-determined point, the "header" leads
off first with the "heeler" following close behind. A time penalty,
about 10 seconds, is added if the header breaks the barrier too soon.
It is the job of the header to first rope the steer around either both
horns, one horn and head, or neck. Once the header ropes the steer, the
heeler will then move in to rope both hind legs. The header will turn
the steer to the left in order to expose both hind legs to the heeler.
The heeler must rope both hind legs or the team will also have a 5
second penalty added to their time. The clock stops when both team
ropers have successfully roped the steer, there is no slack in the
ropes, and they turn to face each other.
This is a very exciting class for both spectators and riders.
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The Roping Horse: When selecting the right horse
for team roping, you can select specifically for heading and
specifically for heeling. A horse best built for heading will need to
be stout and strong. The heading horse will need enough strength to
turn the steer without struggling.
The ability to turn the steer is an important step in team roping
because it allows the heeler to come in and rope the hind legs of the
steer. The header horse also has to be fast to catch up to the steer
once its out of the chute for a better overall event time.
A good heading horse also advances on a steer to a point where his
shoulder is in line with the steer's hips or back feet. The trick is
for the horse to maintain this position while the rider ropes the
steer. Horses that move too far ahead or too far behind the steer will
make it harder for the rider to successfully rope the steer.
The horse should maintain this position
until the rider cues it to turn the steer.
When choosing a horse for heeling many experts recommend one with more
cow sense, or has such horses in the bloodlines. A shorter horse will
bring a rider a little closer to the ground allowing for a better shot
at roping the hind legs of the steer.
A heeler must also be strong to hold onto a steer once it’s been roped.
A heeler also needs to stop more on its hind end rather than the front
end which can be jarring to the rider.
Pro Circuit Rodeo Team Roping - youtube
Team Roping Equipment: To successfully compete in
a team roping event, you will want to be prepared with the proper
equipment to avoid damage to that equipment or possible safety hazards.
The saddle is quite important as it will help keep a rider on the horse
and secure the rope that the steer is tied to. You want a roping saddle
with a seat that fits you.
Roping saddles generally have horns that are thick to support the extra
force placed on it by the rope. You will be securing the roped steer to
this part of the saddle so you want to make sure you have the right
You will also need to attach some rubber around the horn to help
protect it during competition. The rubber protects the horn from the
friction produced by the rope. A rope tied directly to the horn with no
rubber will eventually break down after repeated use.
A rope is another piece of equipment you need for team roping. There
are different variations of rope for heading and heeling. Headers
generally use ropes that are a little shorter and even a little softer.
Heelers generally use longer ropes that are more stiff in comparison to
a header rope.
Another important piece of equipment is a roping glove. The glove is
usually made of cotton and serves to protect your hand and skin from
the rope causing any burns or damage.
Breast collars and tie-downs are also used in team roping. Tie-downs
are generally nose bands with a piece of leather attaching to the
cinch. This helps to keep the horse's head down towards the steer.
You will need roping reins attached to your bridle. Roping reins are
attached as one piece from one side of the bit to the other. This
prevents you from possibly losing your reins during competition which
would be more of a risk with split reins.
Roping Riding Tips: When riding a header you want
to have your horse standing square in the box to allow for a better
break out of the box. Next you will ride as quickly as possible to
catch up to the steer.
Once you have roped the steer, make sure you pull the slack in the rope
as tight as possible and take a dally around the saddle horn, which is
basically wrapping the slack in the rope around the saddle horn at
Next make sure the rope is tight as you cue your horse to turn the
steer to the left. A loose rope while turning the steer can be a bit
more jarring to the steer and ultimately affect the shot of the heeler.
When roping off a heeler, you need to be focused on the back feet of
the steer as soon as you leave the box. You aren't allowed to rope
until the header has roped the steer and begins to turn it.
Once you rope the back feet, pull up the slack on the rope and run your
dally around the saddle horn. A well trained heeler will stop at this
point and your next task is to back your horse up.
Where to Show
When looking to begin competing in team roping events, there are a few
places to start from. There are many local open rodeo competitions, but
it may be beneficial to spend some time in the spectator stands and
watch a team roping event.
Local clubs are a great place to get comfortable with this event before
moving on to the national organization events. Looking into local,
state, and national organizations can also direct you to other
professionals in team roping.
Working with a team roping professional
will could be very helpful to help prepare yourself and your horse for