Roping skills take time to learn, but once you’ve put in the hours and dedicated yourself to your craft, you’ll be catching steers left and right! To get better, start with the following five steps, and stay open to feedback and advice along the way from more experienced calf ropers.
1. Use a Dummy Head
The best way to perfect your roping skills is to start on the ground. Purchase a calf roping dummy head and attach it to a bale of hay. These dummy heads are usually made of plastic, but some have real horns. It helps you get a sense of the size and shape of your roping target.
2. Find the Right Rope
Next, make sure you have a good practice rope to work with. Eventually, you will gravitate toward the rope that fits your purposes. Headers usually use softer ropes while heelers use stiffer ropes. While you’re just practicing roping skills, a softer rope is better. You should also find a comfortable roping glove for your right hand.
Start by standing close to the dummy head — it’s easier to learn from a short distance because there is less rope out there to get tangled in.
3. Simulate a High-Pressure Scenario
Once you’re able to swing the rope only two to four times before catching the fake steer, it’s time to up the pressure. Calf roping takes place in a high-octane environment — it feels urgent. You want to be as comfortable in your roping skills as possible so that this stress doesn’t make you lose control of your technique.
Challenge another beginner roper to a series of drills. When one person says “go,” take turns roping from directly behind the dummy and try to rope the head on your second swing. As you get better, add in the motion of pulling the rope taut. Then try it again from farther away. If you can perform and maintain your roping skills under pressure, you’re ready to move onto the next step.
4. Work with Your Horse
Make sure your horse is used to hearing and feeling the rope around their body and above their head. Start by walking your horse up to the dummy, stopping where you roped from the ground, and practice roping the dummy on the second swing. Eventually you’ll want to increase your speed, practicing at a trot and then a lope.
5. Use a Mechanical Steer
If you can practice with a mechanical steer, this will be even more realistic. Start by practicing with the mechanical steer moving in a straight line, then a zig-zag motion. Eventually, you’ll be ready to take on the real thing.
For all of the supplies you need to perfect your roping skills, come to Frontier Trailer & Roping Supply. You can also order online and have your order shipped free throughout Utah. We have the quality products you need to become a skilled calf roper in no time.