Friday, January 20, 2012

How to Team Rope on Tall Horse?

Clay Cooper, seven-time World Champion team roper, said it all in 45 seconds when asked to give advice to folks who love the sport: “It takes hard work and dedication,” he declared. Cooper stresses the importance of teamwork, persistence and never giving up while competing in the rough and tumble sport that is composed of two-person teams -- the header ropes the steer’s head while the heeler wrangles the hind legs. Working together spells success and safety. Having the right horse and the right partner makes things doubly enjoyable.
The Right Horse For the Right Job
You already know that “taller is better” in team roping and if you’re lucky enough to own or ride the American quarter horse, you’re at an advantage in the height department. Pick the tallest of two if you ride the heading horse for plenty of maneuverability and give the heeling horse -- the quick, agile steed -- to your partner. Understand the importance of your horse’s physicality, too. Texas A&M University veterinarian Robin M. Dabareiner stresses the importance of keeping tabs on hooves. “… heading horses are 20% more likely to be lame in the right front foot, while heeling horses are 15% more likely to be lame in the left front.”
Practice Makes Perfect
You and your partner can ride like the wind, take down a steer in record time and fill a wall with blue ribbons and trophies, but if you allow your success to lull you into a false state of complacency and don’t practice, those kudos could be short lived. Your practices should include working on your timing, coordination following the steer’s entry into the arena, strategic pursuit and first rope contact by the header seeking to accomplish the sport’s three legal catches. The hand-off to the heeler must be synchronized to make quick work of roping the hind legs. The key to success is endless practice to fine tune your timing so that you and your partner are always on the same wavelength.
Let Your Partner Do His Job
Historically, team roping got its start on cattle ranches before it was adopted by the rodeo circuit and became a two-person sport. There’s no disputing the importance of the partnership, and each member has a distinct role to play during a team-roping exercise or competition. Focus on your role as the header or heeler so that you don’t impede your partner’s ability to accomplish his end of the bargain. Infringe on his responsibilities and you risk more than just an argument when you get to the barn -- you could also be assessed a penalty.
Avoid the Blame Game
You work and practice to be at your most competitive, but nothing drags down a team’s spirit more than playing the blame game. Whether an unfortunate, wrong move costs your team a fast rope or a penalty puts you and your buddy on a road to elimination or disqualification, focus on your friendship, not the incident. Talk it out. Don’t wait or the issue could grow larger than the header horse, putting your ability to work harmoniously in jeopardy.
Respect the Judges
Once the object of your roping exercise is within your control, even a performance that you and your partner deem picture perfect could earn a bad call from a judge. Penalty seconds may be added because the steer didn’t get off to a good start or a hind leg was improperly roped. Worst-case scenario of all: You perform seamlessly but your partner is tagged as a result of the sport’s separate judging practices. The judge rules in more ways than one, so take bad calls in stride and use the experience to increase your professional wisdom, too.

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