Team Roping Competition In Las Vegas
I have so much admiration for these guys and gals!
It Has To Be A Lot Harder Than It Looks!
I have to admit, I had never seen a professional team roping event during a rodeo like the one that we went to at the South Point Casino Equestrian Center in Las Vegas. This Equestrian center is a world class arena and equestrian event showplace that features many competitions and shows throughout the year. It is also one of the largest equestrian centers in the country. Some of the special features of the South Point Equestrian Center include:
- 1,200 horse stalls that are climate controlled to keep the horses comfortable
- An indoor practice arena that measures 270 feet by 90 feet
- A 4,600 seat arena for spectators to watch the rodeo events
- A bar overlooking the arena
- Concessions and snack bars for the comfort of the rodeo audience and participants
- A show floor that measures 250 feet by 125 feet
How Team Roping Is Done
It was interesting to watch these cowboys and cowgirls ride their horses, waiting for the steer to be released through the chute. They would follow behind the steer until he was in the right position. Then the "header" (the person in front) would rope the steer around the horns and he (or she) would turn the steer. This is when the heeler (the person on a horse in the back) would toss the rope around the back feet of the steer, bringing it down to the ground.
Sounds easy, right? Well, from watching the team roping competition, these fantastic cowboys and cowgirls sure made it look easy. I knew that it probably was not nearly as easy as they made it look!
And the very fact that it did look so easy has got to be because these talented people are usually semi-professionals who have put in countless hours of training. They are not only excellent horsemen (and horsewomen)... they can also handle a length of rope, swing it in an almost perfect circle, release it, and catch a MOVING steer with the rope! It's an amazing thing to watch and a precisely orchestrated feat of equestrian talent.
The person in the back (known as the "heeler") is responsible for swinging their rope near the ground, catching both of the steer's back feet in it. The two horses are then guided to back up a few yards, immobilizing the steer. All of this was accomplished in an average of about 12 seconds! It's an exciting, fast-paced competition that is very interesting to watch!
A Bit Of Team Roping History
Team roping was originally developed on ranches where large animals had to be restrained, and it usually could not be done by one person alone. Teams of two riders would work together learning to orchestrate their movements to restrain and subdue the animal.
There are thousands of ropers throughout the country who compete for money in team roping competitions, but very few of them who earn the large money amounts that only the best of the best are able to earn.
A Payday Where Every Cent Is Earned
The best of the bunch in team roping competitions walk away with checks for $200,000 each! That's not a bad payday for only 12 seconds of work! OK, so it is probably more like years and years of hard work. Along with hours and hours of training, sweating, enduring things like bleeding fingers and learning not only to ride the horses the way they do, but also how to expertly handle those ropes.
I cannot even begin to imagine how hard this sport must be to learn, much less to do such an excellent job at it, the way these cowboys and gals do!
My husband and I had a "Should've Been A Cowboy" moment when we watched the team roping competition (remember that song by Toby Keith?) ... We thought, we are in the wrong business! Look at this! We could make $200,000 in one afternoon just by riding in one of these competitions!
I mean, all you have to do is ride out and "catch" this moving steer with a rope, how hard can that be? Well, not only can it be extremely grueling and difficult, I also read someplace later that these cowboys and cowgirls sometimes lose fingers while they are doing this!
Added to that, I bet they have to start at a VERY young age learning to ride the horses to become the fantastic riders they are. THEN they have to learn how to rope the steers, while the steers are moving. It made me wonder how in the world they do both of these things at the same time. These folks make it look so easy, which is the hallmark of true professionals.
Between the two competitions we watched, all the riders competing in them rode their horses out into the auditorium as the announcer called their names. Then, they lined up all of the horses in a huge circle that went around the entire outer edge of the field. We couldn't believe how many horses were in this building, and how they were all handled so well by their riders!
My hat is OFF to the brave cowboys and cowgirls that we watched taking part in this team roping competition. I have so much admiration for what they do and to make it look so easy is just a fine example of pure professionalism.
Team roping is a fascinating competition to watch. All of these cowboys EARNED every penny of the checks they received. Most received anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 ~ There were very few who received the big prize of $200,000. This is a display of professionalism and dedication that is matched by very few other sports.