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Ranch Roping is Practical Horsemanship

By Kelli Paulson, Mid States Ranch Horses, LLC
The romance of the cowboy, natural horsemanship, vaquero traditions and ranch horses are getting lots of attention in the horse world. How can you fit this into your horse experience?

Enjoyed by beginners, families or experienced horsemen and women ranch roping brings it all together.

If you think roping is for the fast and furious arena roper, think again. Ranch roping is done at the walk or standstill, carefully and deliberately. The cattle are handled carefully without stress. It is a skill that can be grasped by beginners or perfected by more experienced horseman.

Beginners learning to ranch rope can progress at their own pace. Cowgirls are getting the bug because there is a lot of style and elegance involved. It is more grace, art and technique than speed. Ranch roping also challenges the most experienced roper as they learn the art of the more fancy and difficult shots.

The basics of ranch roping can be learned in a few hours. The learning never stops or gets boring. There are many new shots to learn or perfect such as the houlihan, Johnny Blocker, and la flor del viento.

Becoming handy with your horse and rope is just good horsemanship. Introduce your horse to new skills. Let your horse know there is a reason to sidepass, pivot on the forehand and hindquarters, and to stop and backup. Ranch roping will help refine your riding and take your horsemanship to the next level.

A handy horse is useful and has a job. Possibly clearing a fallen tree off a trail, helping unbog another horse, pulling a sled uphill, or doctoring a sick calf. There is nothing better than being the person that is called on to catch a horse, cow or other rope savvy critter while making it seem effortless.

The experience your horse gains is invaluable. He learns to be stable under pressure and around the chaos of balling calves, branding smoke, and commotion. The horse learns to look to you for guidance, enjoy being with you, and learns that it is all not a drill. He becomes soft, directable and accurate. Working with one hand gives meaning to the reins. Your legs give support and direction. It allows to you to put all the pieces together.

Learning the sport doesn’t require a lot of expense. A good rope and a homemade roping dummy will get you started. When you are ready for cattle, a calf or two will do in a pen or pasture. They won’t sour because you are not jerking, dragging or chasing them. No chute, motorized dummy, alley ways, catch pen or arena required.

Start by learning to handle your rope and build a loop while standing on the ground. Next start roping a dummy. By using many different shots you should be able to rope the head or heels of the dummy from any position. Once you are comfortable, work at getting your horse use to the rope. Then rope the dummy horse back. Work on the position and control of your horse. Practice handling your rope, dalling and popping your dallies. Dragging logs and other objects will help get your horse use to pulling and being pulled on. Familiarize your horse with cattle before getting your rope out. When starting on real cattle use a breakaway hondo. Breakaways lessen big wreaks and make rope recovery a snap. When you feel proficient with the breakaway hondo move on to the hard hondo. You are now ready for hours of enjoyable fun with your horse. I have discovered that our horses improve more with a few hours of roping than with a week of drills in the arena. Go forth and practice and above all have fun!

If you want to get started come to a Mid States Ranch Horses event! They host events almost every weekend!