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New to Roping? Here’s What You Should Know

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If you’re brand new to the world of team roping, we’re here to help you understand where this unique rodeo event originated. Also known as heading and heeling, team roping is a unique sport that features a steer and two mounted riders. In order for a team to succeed, there must be clear communication and teamwork between the header and the heeler. It is also incredibly important to have a properly trained horse.

People from all over the world flock to rodeo events to watch team roping, and the skillwork between riders and horses can be incredibly exciting. Let’s take a closer look at team roping and what is involved in this rodeo event.

A Brief History of Team Roping

Team roping originated from the Old West, when cowboys were working on ranches. At the time, it was necessary for two cowboys to capture and restrain full-grown animals that were too large to handle by one person. Today, team roping is a timed event that relies on the cooperation and the skills of both cowboys and their horses.

Rodeo has become a popular sport not only in the United States, but also throughout South America, Australia, and Canada. The primary objective of team roping is to capture and pin down a steer.

Team Roping: What You Need To Know

The first roper is known as the “header.” This is the person who ropes the front of the steer, normally somewhere near the horns. Once the steer has been captured in front, they will turn it around so its hind legs can be roped by the second person. This person is known as the “heeler.”

Most steers that are used in roping events are moved from a holding corral through a series of narrow runways that eventually lead to the final roping arena. The header will often start from the left side (or left box), while the heeler starts from the right. When the header is ready, they will call for the steer, and someone will pull a lever that will open the steer’s door to the roping arena.

Once the steer is let loose, the header and the heeler are released closely behind. It is now up to the header to rope the steer using one of three legal catches.

  1. A clean horn catch around both horns of the steer.
  2. A catch around the steer’s neck
  3. A half-head catch around the steer’s neck and one horn.

When the steer has been caught, the header will wrap the rope a few times around steer’s horn, before attempting to turn the animal to the left. At this point in time, the heeler will be waiting for the steer to turn, and when they have a clear throw, they will throw a loop of rope under the steer’s hind legs. Once the hind legs have been captured, both riders will back up their horses to stretch out the steer’s legs, completely immobilizing them. As soon as the steer is stretched out, an official will wave a flag and the time that was taken to catch the animal will be recorded before the steer is released.

It’s important to note that there is a five second penalty for roping only one hind leg of the steer. There is also a 10-second penalty for breaking the barrier. Most professional-level roping teams will take anywhere from 4 to 12 seconds to catch and stretch a steer, and this often depends on the length of the arena.

Important Roping Tips To Remember

Whether you’re a novice roper or you’ve been practicing with a roping team for years, we’ve collected some helpful tips to help you capture that steer. Let’s take a look at some roping tips below.

Practice, Practice, Practice

If you truly want to become a roping master, you must take the time out of your schedule to practice on a regular basis. If you’re like most roping aficionados, you don’t have your own steer at home to practice on. Luckily, there are several high-quality roping tools available on the market to help you perfect your roping skills.

At Heel-O-Matic Training Systems, we’re passionate about making roping supplies and training aids to help you practice your steer roping skills. Some of our most popular training products include:

Bones 2.0 Portable Heading Dummy

As one of the most advanced heading dummy’s on the market, you’ll love everything that this roping dummy has to offer. With an anatomically correct head and a new, lower headset, ropers can practice swinging their rope at various angles, loop placement, and more.

SuperSlider Heading Dummy

If you’re looking for a heading dummy that the entire family can enjoy, you should order our SuperSlider Heading Dummy. Great for youth ropers and community events, the unique frame of this dummy ensures stability with even the tightest of turns.

Control Your Horse

This advice is mostly for the header in a roping team. One of the most important parts of the header’s role is to properly gauge the speed of the cattle, while also controlling the horse. It takes a very strong bond between a horse and its rider to display top-notch horsemanship skills.

The Heel-O-Matic Training System

If you’re shopping for essential roping supplies and dummies to help you reach your team roping goals, be sure to check out our Heel-O-Matic Training Systems online today. We carry a wonderful selection of training systems and accessories to help you improve your roping skills. 

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