Fashioned after cowboys who had to rope and brand steers on ranches, team roping takes a high level of skill and athleticism. Riders compete in teams of two, comprised of a header and a healer. Team roping is unique in that women and men can go head to head in the same competition.
Both riders start out in the boxes sandwiching the chute which holds the steer. Once the breakaway barrier is set and connected to the steer, it is stretched across the headers box.
The steer is given a headstart and is released before the header starts. Because arena sizes vary so much, the amount of time given to the steer depends on the length of the arena.
Header and Healer
The header goes first, once the barrier is broken. The team is penalized 10 seconds if the header starts before the barrier is broken.
The header is allowed one of three legal catches when roping the steer.
- 1Around both horns of the steer
- 2One horn and the around the steers neck
- 3Around just the neck
Once the header successfully ropes the steer, he uses his horse to turn the steer so that his legs will be in range of the healer.
While the healer sometimes has a barrier too it is not always required. Either way, shortly after the header starts, the healer goes.
The heeler then attempts to rope both of the steers hind legs. If only one of the legs are caught, a 5 second penalty is given to the team.
The timer is stopped as soon as both ropers pull all of the slack out of their ropes.
Quarter horses are by far the most popular breed used by roping teams. Their speed and strength make them perfectly suited for the job.
Heading horses tend to be larger than heeling horses as it takes a lot of strength to turn a steer. The best healing horses are fast and nimble.
Steers are incredibly quick and they are doing what they can to stay away from the rope. Because of this it takes an extremely athletic pair of horses to compete at a high level.
Team Roping Gear
Modern team roping gear has helped the sport improve both via safety and performance. There are numerous quality producers of team roping gear and you can get everything from your ropes to the chutes delivered right to your door.
- 1Roping ropes
- 2Roping gloves
- 3Roping dummy
- 4Dally wrap
- 5Roper chaps
Team roping is one of the best events at the rodeo. Let us know your favorite in the comments below.
Fred is the editor of Equine Ridge. He grew up raising horses and has been riding, training, and competing for almost four decades. Fred started out performing on the AQHA and PHBA circuits. Fred trained other competitors in English and Western riding disciplines and today offers free riding lessons to youth who would otherwise not be able to afford lessons. When not working with horses he can be found backpacking or trying to brew the perfect cup of coffee. Email Fred at firstname.lastname@example.org