Team Roping

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 scene.

Getting started in this event, as with most other events, will likely require consulting a professional in the discipline.

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.

Class Breakdown

team ropingIn 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 timing.

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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Getting Started

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 user: thisloverstryst

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 saddle.

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 least twice.

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 competition.

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