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The Basics Of Scoring

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Team roping has become a popular sporting event in rodeos all over the world. It is the only rodeo event that requires two contestants, the header and a heeler, who work together to rope a calf or steer. The first roper, or header, is responsible for roping the front of the steer. Once the steer has been caught, either by roping it around the neck, one horn, or the nose, the heeler is responsible for roping the steer by its hind feet. No matter how long you’ve been roping, scoring is one of the toughest things to master as a header, especially at the top level where a tenth of a second could mean the difference between first place and second place.

In the layman’s terms, scoring refers to how a horse waits or stands in the box until the rider cues the horse to move forward. Many ropers will score several steers on their horses when practicing. This teaches the horse to take action when you tell it to, rather than the horse running out of the box impulsively.

Brief History of Team Roping

Team roping originated from old cowboy techniques that were used on ranches when it was necessary to capture and restrain a full-grown animal that was too large to handle by one person.

How Does Rodeo Scoring Work?

If you’re brand new to the world of team roping, you may be wondering how rodeo scoring actually works. Rodeo scores are given by two to four judges, where both the cowboys and the horses are judged on their performance. Each judge is responsible to score the cowboy and the horse on a scale of 1 to 25.

Rodeo scoring can be difficult to judge because rodeo judges are supposed to know the ins and outs of seven different competitive sports: bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing. Let’s take a closer look at some of these sports below.

Bull Riding

As you may have guessed, bull riding is a rodeo competition that requires a cowboy to climb on the back of a 2,000 pound bull. Injuries are always a possibility, as riders demonstrate their physical prowess and extreme courage. Similar to bareback and saddle bronc riders, bull riders can only use one hand to help them stay on the bull during this intense eight second ride.

Bareback Riding

Out of all the different types of rodeo cowboys, bareback riders endure the most injuries. Bareback riders utilize a unique rig when riding, which looks something like a suitcase handle on a strap. This unit is placed on the horse’s withers before it is secured with a cinch.

Saddle Bronc Riding

This classic rodeo event involves strength, style, and grace, as a cowboy attempts to ride a bucking horse. The rider must have both heels touching the animal above the shoulders, and he or she must use one hand when trying to stay in the saddle. If the rider ends up touching themselves or the horse with his or her free hand, he or she will be immediately disqualified.

Scoring Tips For Cowboys

The horse you ride, along with your relationship, is a tremendous factor in scoring. Some horses have a talent for scoring, while others may need a little more work. Your body language is also a major component of your scoring success, so it’s important to be calm and cool as you wait in the box with your horse. We’ve listed some tips for scoring below.

Keep Calm And Carry On

If you’re like most team roping enthusiasts, your horse is one of your best friends. The way you speak to and act around your companion can have a tremendous impact on your scoring. Even the way you hold the rein in your hand while waiting in the box can affect the performance of your horse. If you want your horse to feel calm and confident before the big event, remember that your energy rubs off on them. Try your best not to let your nerves get to you before the rodeo by doing things that keep your mind and body relaxed.

Keep Your Hands Level

Another thing worth paying attention to is your hands. When you’re in the roping box, make sure your hands are even with the saddle horn. This can help you keep proper tension on the reins, letting your horse know that you’re in control and ready to ride. As you work with your horse on scoring, many rodeo experts recommend using repetition, so your horse gains confidence in what you’re asking him or her to do.

According to Clint Doll, a professional roper with 30 years of experience, “ Do things the same every time, and when your horse responds how you want him to and does something you've asked – even if it's really small – be sure to reward him. It's crucial for that kind of horse to gain trust in what you're asking.”

Heel-O-Matic Training Systems: Realistic Steer Roping Dummies

As a leading manufacturer of team roping supplies and training aids, Heel-O-Matic is proud to carry an array of roping dummies to help cowboys and cowgirls of all roping levels improve their skills. Our latest team roping dummy,  The Trainer, features a unique steer hop sequence that is the exact replica of a live cattle in tow, making it perfect for training. Browse our website for roping supplies today!