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Team Roping Basics

All the basics of the team roping event


Team roping is the only team event in rodeo. Like tie-down roping and saddle bronc riding, team roping grew out of the ranch chores of the past. Larger cattle would have to be immobilized for branding and doctoring by two ropers due to their strength and size. Today, team roping is a timed competition that relies on the cooperation and skill of the cowboys and their horses.

Team roping has very specific rules and regulations in professional rodeo. Included among those rules are the number of cowboys and what each one does and is called, barrier basics, timing and penalties and types of catches permitted.

Header and Heeler

The two cowboys involved in team roping have unique goals. The first, known as the header, does just what the name implies and ropes the head of the cattle. The other cowboy, known as the heeler, ropes the heels or legs.

What Each Cowboy Does

As with the other timed events, the team ropers start from the box. The header is the first out trying to rope the head as quickly as possible without breaking the barrier. Once the catch is made the header dallies and turns the steer left. This opens up the way for the heeler to work his magic and rope the legs. The clock is stopped when there is no slack in both ropes and the horses face each other.

Timing and Penalties

If the barrier is broken a 10 second penalty is added to the time. Also, if the heeler manages to catch only one leg, then a 5 second penalty is added. In addition to these penalties there are only 3 legal catches that the header can make. These are:

  • both horns
  • one horn and the head
  • the neck

Team roping is great event to watch due to the amazing coordination and cooperation of all the competitors. Team members must work well with each other and with their horses respectively. It's also an extremely fun event to try out of you are so inclined.

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