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Team Roping

Rodeo 101: Fundamentals of Team Roping

Team roping is one of the main events of any rodeo, but it is also a standalone event all on its own! If we look back in history, team roping derived from the practice of day workers in the 1800s, safely roping and treating an injured cow, branding or tagging calves. . Just like in the old days, it was done by two cowboys or cowgirls roping the head of the steer, then roping the heels.

These days, it’s all about who can do that with the fastest time! What it comes down to looks a little like this. You start with two people on horses, they back their horses into what’s called a “box” which allows the cowboys/cowgirls to get their horses situated before a run. Once you have a steer loaded, it breaks down like this:

  1. One rider is called the “header”, they are responsible for roping the horns of the steer. The header needs to be able to quickly and efficiently rope the steer’s head in order for his partner to be able to throw his loop.
  2. The second rider is the “heeler”. They are responsible for roping the heels of the steer after the header has caught its head. A heeler can legally catch both or just one hind leg.
  3. Once these 2 steps are complete, both horses should set back and pull the steer out, stopping their time.

Wondering what the essentials are for team roping? They are pretty simple!


Having a good horse is the number thing on our list because this it’s the most important part! There isn’t a breed requirement for roping, but mindset and attitude will play a huge role in how your horse performs. Your horse should have all the basic training done as well as be comfortable with having a rope swinging off of it.


You can’t rope without a rope! Ropes come in different lengths, sizes, and designs. They also come in different strands and stiffness. A beginner is usually better off with a medium or medium soft to start off with, to learn how to swing a rope, get your slack, and dally. A softer rope is overall easier to swing, turn over, rotate, and dally with. It may take you time to get the right weight, size, and design of rope that is comfortable for you. That means you should try different types of ropes throughout your roping training.


Another essential part of the puzzle is your saddle! When choosing a saddle, not only should you consider your own needs, but also the needs of your horse. If it doesn’t fit your horse, you are looking to get into a wreck rather than a roping. Make sure to check out our article on our most recommend western saddle brands to learn about your saddle options.


Once you have the right horse, rope, and saddle, you need the right gear to hold the rope! We don’t recommend trying to team rope with bare hands. You need the right set of gloves that will help you get a proper grip. Your gloves should fit exceptionally well and be made of a tougher material.

The above are the essential items that you need in order to learn and master the art of roping. Like any sport, practice makes perfect, the more you practice, the better you will become!

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