What Is Team Roping [17 Frequently Asked Questions]?

Team roping is a rodeo event involving two riders and horses roping a single steer. It is one of two rodeo events necessitating teamwork. The other is steer wrestling.

Team Roping FAQ

Team Roping FAQ

What is the difference between team roping and steer wrestling?

In team roping, the two participants stay mounted on their horses. Steer wrestling is conducted on the ground.

What is the purpose of team roping?

The rodeo event has its roots in actual cowboy work from the old days. Genuine team roping is a skill that allowed two cowboys to gain control of a strong, large, hard to manage steer in the event the animal needed to be branded or was in need of some medication or treatment.

How does team roping work?

Both riders and both horses involved in the event must be tremendously in sync in order to time the double roping perfectly. The first roper is called the header.

This roper must rope the animal around its horns. The second roper then moves in and ropes the animal around its hind legs.

Is there any flexibility in the methods of roping the steer?

The header may rope using one of three methods or catches. They are:

  • The clean horn catch wraps the rope around both horns.
  • The neck catch wraps the rope around the animal’s neck.
  • The half head catch wraps the rope around one horn and the animal’s neck.

If the header is not able to accomplish one of these three catches, the team is disqualified.

What is a dally?

After the header successfully ropes the target’s horns, he or she takes a “dally“. This means the header wraps the rope around the saddle horn a couple of times to help pull the steer to the left.

This makes it easier for the heeler to move in and rope the animal’s hind legs.

How does the heeler rope the steer’s hind legs?

The heeler is supposed to catch both of the steer’s hind legs. If the rider is not successful in doing this, the team must take a five second penalty.

What happens after the heeler and the header both rope the steer?

After the steer is roped, both riders pull their ropes in and back their horses away so that there is no slack in the ropes and the two riders and horses are facing one another and the prostrate steer.

What kind of horses best for team roping?

American Quarter Horses are most commonly used for this rodeo event. They are strong and athletic and have a natural ability to sprint quickly and turn on a dime.

This makes it easier to anticipate and match the movements of the steer.

What is the barrier distance?

This term is used to refer to the amount of head start the steer must be given after it is released from the chute. This is typically about 10 or 15 feet.

The steer is released, and then the two riders pursue it from either side of the chute once it has broken the barrier. This is determined by the breaking of a light rope which is attached to the animal.

How long does roping take?

Ideally, the steer should be roped and down within 15 seconds. The time is called by a flagger or flagman who is located in the arena.

When the steer is down, the ropes are taut and the horses and riders are facing the steer and each other, the flagman drops his flag. At this point, the timekeeper stops the clock and records the time.

Are there penalties?

If a roper misses the target, or if the team starts pursuing the steer before it has broken the barrier the team may receive penalties of 5 to 10 seconds, or may receive no score at all.

How does a roping team win?

The team must catch four steers in a row successfully, and their combined time must be faster than the combined time of any other team. One miss disqualifies the team and puts them out of the competition.

What can team ropers win?

The cash prizes for team roping are quite high, and trophy saddles and/or belt buckles are also coveted prizes.

Who can participate in team roping?

Rodeo participants of any age or gender can take part in this event. To be successful, it takes a great deal of practice, skill, coordination, horsemanship and teamwork.

It is also well worth noting that team roping is an expensive event in that successful team roping horses are typically very high quality and very highly pedigreed.

Training for the event can be extremely costly as the practice steers are quite frequently injured or killed.

If you’re a beginner with no previous experience in this sport, we recommend looking for a good lasso rope and roping dummy for practising the basic skills required for roping.

Is team roping cruel?

According to Dr. Peggy W. Larson, DVM, MS, JD team roping and a wide variety of rodeo events are quite cruel.

Although team roping was originally intended as a means of controlling a large, powerful steer, the animals used for team roping and rodeo events are young calves.

The process of team roping clotheslines the calf and can cause a great deal of damage and injury.

Should you participate in team roping?

If you are actually a cowboy and you need to manage large, powerful steers, roping may be a valuable skill for you.

If you’re interested in riding because you love animals, participating in team roping and other rodeo events should not be attractive to you.

In fact, there’s a great deal of evidence that the institutionalized cruelty inherent in rodeo events actually normalizes cruelty and may make it more likely that animals outside of the rodeo will be subjected to it.

What happens to the calves used in team roping?

The animals that are the target of team roping, steer wrestling and bucking events (among others) live a life of misery in which they are abused and injured. When they are used up, they are sent to slaughter.

Dr. Larson states that meat inspectors at slaughterhouses often find that the animals sourced from rodeos have experienced horrific, serious, extremely painful injuries.

Other Questions:

1. Are there alternatives to team roping that can help cowboys develop the same skills?

There are a number of games that can be played to help cowboys and girls practice and perfect their roping skills. These range from small, tabletop solo games to multi-player outdoor games and even some swimming pool play.

2. How can tabletop games help develop roping skills?

You can purchase a small roping dummy that is designed for tabletop use and practice your roping skills with a sturdy length of twine. You’ll be surprised at how well your focused fine motor skill practice translates into actual roping skills.

There is also a version of the roping dummy called Dash ‘N’ Dally that is intended to help kids while away the time on long car rides. It’s equipped with a suction cup arm that secures it to the inside of a car window so kids can practice mini-roping while traveling.

3. What are some multi-player games that aspiring team ropers can play?

You and your friends can play a game of dare in which you challenge each other with rope tricks using a full size roping dummy. There are two names for this game. Depending upon how long you want it to last, it may be called H.O.R.S.E. or P.I.G.

If you don’t tend to get rowdy, you can also practice roping one another; however, this game tends to get out of hand – especially if kids or drunken cowboys are involved.

4. How do you make a roping dummy?

One of the easiest ways to make a full size roping dummy is to purchase a polyethylene steer head that is made for the purpose. These nearly indestructible training tools can be affixed to a bale of straw or hay and used for roping practice.

There are also many different sorts of full size, moving or stationary roping dummies you can purchase as demonstrated. It is also possible to create a floating roping dummy using pool noodles and PVC connectors.

5. Why would you want a floating roping dummy?

A floating roping dummy is fun to play with in the pool, pond or lake. Making a floating roping dummy is a good way to practice with an unpredictable, moving roping target. These were once offered for sale by the National Saddlery Company. They are no longer available, but putting one together yourself is a simple, inexpensive task that can provide kids and adults lots of summertime fun with roping practice.


  1. https://www.ustrc.com/Knowledge/Roping101/
  2. https://www.hsvma.org/rodeos_inherent_cruelty_to_animals
  3. http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2016/02/rodeo-cruelty-forget-the-myth/

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