Roping Practice  ~Steve McClure (Reno)


In my last post I mentioned a roping clinic that was put on at Sun Fire Stables back in 2014. A similar event was held in “16” and like the first I thought it was well received. 

A rope on a horse is as “Americana” as sliced bread. If truth be told a lot of cowboy culture, especially the rope is derived from the old Spanish “Vaquero” tradition. Whether you “dally” or “tie hard and fast” (and that argument still rages) the rope is an integral part of cowboying. 

Throwing a loop is fun off a horse or on the ground.  Find a roping dummy and have at it. There are so many types of throws depending on position and direction of the critter that you’ll never be bored. It’s gets to be habit forming.  

Lots of folks don’t realize that the rope is also a great tool for training as well as a device to communicate with your horse. Most folks that come to a clinic never intend to throw a loop over a steer and that’s just fine. But the trust and partnership developed with the rope creates a bond that will further enhance your horsemanship and increase the trust between you and your horse. 

I’d much rather work with the rope on the ground and in the saddle than most anything else.  All the horses I ride are soon familiar with my rope. I want them comfortable as well as respectful of the rope. I may catch them with it, log stuff with it or rub them all over with it. I have used the rope doing ground work many times. When you swing a loop while  in the saddle they hear it and at times see it. On the ground I will get it carefully around their legs and rear. All good sacking practice for everyday riding.  

The rope is a physical extension of the horse and rider. When you dally up (yes I dally) and ask for a pull you are one with your mount and the pull is a new sensation to you both as well as a change in your combined center of gravity. Eventually you and the horse learn to get short and long and to pop your dally. It’s an honorable job and I believe horses and people need that.

Now don’t get me wrong. The rope is an excellent training aid for you both. You need never have to interact with cattle to enjoy its benefits. Eventually, should you desire, it can be employed with cattle. Don’t forget that when you land that first head shot three brains are now involved and if you have not received proper instruction things can go south pretty quickly so seek knowledgeable instruction if you have a mind to try. You should be able to turn and maneuver your horse without thinking about it. Your horse should be familiar with cattle. I have roped cattle and sometimes they just stand there. Other times if they are alone or maybe on the prod they take off like a shot, bawling the whole way. Once in a great while they have been known to circle you and wrap the rope around your horses legs and under the tail. Cowboys call that a “rim fire” and as you can imagine it is no fun. Now you understand why knowing how to move your horse and ground work with the rope is so important. 

Whether it is made of poly, nylon, reata or maguey the rope is a solid training and confidence builder for both horse and rider. Find an experienced person or check online to know which rope is right for you. Ask someone how to “punch a hole in the rope” and throw a loop. Build a roping dummy and get to throwing. Of course there are a bunch of different throws but stick to the basic over the head throw and practice. We all know working with horses can be dangerous so take it slow and steady. Like all things worthwhile it takes work and practice but it’s really a lot of fun!


To read more by Steve McClure (Reno)--see below.

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