Friday, August 20, 2010


Last Saturday we went to a nearby town for the team roping competition. I had never been to such an event before, and I was very excited to see what it was all about. When we got there, several of the participants were walking and trotting around the arena to get warmed up.

It was also a fundraiser for the local junior and senior high schools, which will be taking a trip to Washington, D.C. next year. Some of the kids were there to help with the event.

And then it was time to start. In case you've never been to a team roping event, here are the basics:
1. Two people chase a steer with horns and try to rope it.
2. The first roper is called the header and tries to lasso the horns.
3. The second roper is called heeler and tries to lasso the two back legs.
4. They only get one try.

This event wasn't timed, so they either succeeded or not. A success could be full, being both back legs roped, or partial, with just one back leg roped.

There were two competitions, a morning and afternoon. For the morning competition there were 35 teams. Some people only went once, while others went more than ten times. Each competitor had to pay $25 to compete. The purse was split between stock charges (a fee to take care of the steers), and the winning three teams.

Glen was the guy who organized it. He's been to many roping competitions and makes it look easy.

Here are the steers in a chute waiting for their turn to outrun the ropes.

While the cowboys and cowgirls waited, they practiced their form.

When the team was ready, the header nodded at Blake, operating the chute. He opened it, and a steer raced out, followed by the horses.

I've tried roping a fake steer standing still in my inlaws yard and couldn't even manage that. Trying to rope a moving steer from a moving horse takes a lot of practice.

Once the ropers either missed or caught it, the steer was taken to the far end of the arena where the teenagers took off the rope, if needed, and let it through to the holding pen.

The speed is really impressive. Each try at roping was over in less than a minute.

Above, the header is getting the rope around the steer's horns. Each steer wears protective head gear.

Here's another header trying to catch a steer.

Desert Boy was happy to spectate with Carol and Sam while I wandered around with Desert Girl taking photos.

More ropes waiting their turn. The roper on the far left might be familiar to you from previous posts.

It's Lee, our 90 year-old cowboy. He was lamenting that he was no longer a good roper. He's still better than 99.9% of the population! I sure couldn't do what he was doing that day!

It was neat watching the ropers swing their ropes. They don't use just any old rope, they have very special ropes for roping, with a certain heft and flexibility. After being used for awhile, the ropes develop kinks and have to be retired for basket making or odd jobs.

Ben had a really good camera and probably got much better photos than me. Someday I may get a better camera, but first I have to be willing to haul it around!

Sam concentrated hard on the competition.

This young cowboy watched intently. I wouldn't be surprised if he's competing in ten years.

After all the steers had had their turn, it was time to bring them back for another round.

There's a little score booth where the score keeper can keep track of how everyone is doing and announce who's up next. Out of 35 teams, about a dozen were successful ropers in the first round, so they went on to a second round. Only three were successful then, and there were no ties, so it was only three rounds long.

In the afternoon there were ties, so there were many more rounds.

Here the header has roped the horns and the heeler is swinging his rope tried to get the back legs.

Caitlin and Creg were one of the teams that were tied, so they had to rope many times.

Caitlin has successfully roped the horns.

And then Creg gets a leg. The steer is quickly released.

Meanwhile the younger kids found a chute to play in. We also ate a delicious barbeque lunch and bought some bake sale items to support the fundraising efforts.

And out in the arena, the roping continued. It was getting pretty warm and the kids were ready for their naps, so we got ready to go.

I don't think it's something that I'll ever be able to do, but watching the competition was quite entertaining. And now I can say I've seen some team roping!

1 comment:

jendoop said...

Looks like a fun day, although the sunny dust makes me thirsty!

Have you ever seen a similar event with married couples? The husband ropes the steer and the wife has to grab a ribbon tied around the steer's tail. I watched my cousins compete at it last summer, it was a hoot!

Also - I just gave you the Beautiful Blogger Award on my blog!

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