The History of Teamwork and Team Roping

When you think of a team building exercise, what do you think of? A trust test, where one person falls and you’re suppose to catch them? Or how about 2 Truths and a Lie, where you share two facts and a lie, and the person other has to guess which one is the lie. Well in the rodeo world, you could say our team building exercise is called team roping. But the difference between team roping and a “normal” team building exercise is that this “exercise” is a lifeline for some, not a game to get to know each other. In this blog post, we’re going to break down the history of team roping along with the ins and outs of the sport.

Like all the events in rodeo, their history stems back from the American cowboys during the wild west days when rodeo was more than just a sport. It was a way of life. Team roping originated on ranches when cowboys needed to brand or treat sick steers that were too difficult to manage on their own. Ever since then, team roping has evolved into competitive timed event where teamwork is a necessity for the cowboys to master between their partners and horses.

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Some say it is similar to steer wrestling, as team roping is a two person timed rodeo event. But there are some stark contrasts between the two. One of the main differences is that in team roping, no one is getting off their horse! With team roping, once the steer is out of the chute, the header and heeler have to chase after him without breaking the barrier. The header, the first cowboy to rope the steer, has to land his rope around the head of the animal. The header must rope the steer with one of three legal catches: clean horn catch (around both horns), a neck catch (around the neck) or a half-head catch (around the neck and one horn). Roping on any other part of the steer is considered illegal and the team will be disqualified.

After the the header ropes the steer’s horns, or makes the “catch”, they will “take a dally”, where they make a couple wraps of the rope around the horn of their saddle. By wrapping the rope around the horn of the saddle this will help turn the steer to the left. Turning the steer to the left will make it easier for the heeler to catch the steer’s hind legs. When the heeler tries to catch the hind legs they must catch both of the heels. If the heeler is only able to catch one or none of the heels then the team will be given a five-second penalty. To stop the clock, after the heeler ropes the legs, both cowboys must pull their ropes so there is no slack and face each other.

One of the unique and strategic elements of team roping is the type of horses used. The most popular type of horse used in team roping is the American quarter horse. These horses are great for headers because they’re generally taller and heavier, helping headers turn the steers after they’re roped. These horses are also very athletic and able to make quick turns and reach high speeds that are necessary to match a steer’s movement for heeling.

So if you’re company is looking for a new way to bond y’all may want to consider team roping! Or maybe you just come watch some at our next rodeo. Your pick.