Four things are required for horse roping (also known as heading.) One, you need a human willing to participate in the sport, for the sake of convenience we’re going to assume that’s you. Two, you’ll need a rope. Well, you’ll probably need a lot of rope. Three, you’ll need a calf or a calf substitute called a dummy. Lastly, you’re going to need a horse. A good roping horse is thoroughly trained, fast, intelligent and able to stop on a dime. Originally coming from cattle ranches for catching cattle to brand or subdue for veterinarian care, roping has developed into a popular, worldwide, rodeo event. Ask any rider, and they’ll tell you the horse is the most important part.
Busting a move – The Steps of Horse Roping
Any horse you choose for a mount to learn roping should already have basic training in movement. They should know how to go backwards, sideways and of course, forwards, all at various speeds. They should be capable of traveling in a straight line or twist at their rider’s command. It’s best to have all this perfected before you move on, because what’s a small problem at the start can rapidly develop into a big problem later on.
When it comes to training your horse to the art of roping, after the basics the best place to start is to get your horse used to ropes. Let your horse get used to the smell and feel of a rope. They should become used to feeling it on any part of their body without panic. Once they’re used to feeling and smelling it, you can start to introduce them to the movements of a rope being used.
Meet the Cow
Your horse also kind of needs to be familiar with cows. Your best bet is to teach your horse with one calf in a ring, so they know what to be focused on. If you don’t have access to a calf, you can use a dummy such as a bale of hay or weighted inner tube being pulled, but it’ll introduce more steps in the learning process down the line. Assuming you’ve gotten your hands on a young steer, you’ll be riding behind the calf a lot until your horse learns to follow the calf without your instruction. Then the roping of the calf or dummy begins. Let your horse get used to the feeling of weight being pulled against him and being commanded to stop and brace the weight. From there you get to move on to the calf being released from a chute for the horse to chase and you to capture. After that, it’s letting your horse get used to your rapid dismounts to bind the calf.
Horse roping is an art, and a well-trained horse in the arena is a very rewarding experience for you and them.