Team Roping

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Team Roping

Photo courtesy of Alex Tam of the Canby Herald

This event is also known as Heading and Heeling.  A two-person team competes.  The first roper is referred to as the "header" (the person who ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns), and the second roper is the "heeler", who ropes the steer by it's hind feet.  Team roping is the only rodeo event where men and women compete equally together in professionally sanctioned competition.

When the header is ready, he or she calls for the steer and an asistant pulls or trips a lever, opening the chute doors.  The freed steer breaks out running.  When the steer reaches the end of the rope, the barrier releases.  The header must rope the steer with one of three legal catches: clean horn catch (around both horns), a nech catch (around the neck), or a half-head catch (around the neck and one horn).  The header then takes a "dally", which is a couple of wraps of the rope around the horn of the saddle.  Speed is important and some have lost fingers in this event.  Once the header has made the dally he will turn his horse, usually tot he left, and the steer will follow, still running.

The heeler waits until the header has turned the steer.  When he or she has a clear way, he throws a loop or rope under the running steer's hind legs and catches them.  As soon as the heeler also dallies tight, the header turns his horse to directly face the steer, immobilizing the animal.  As soon as the steer is stretched out, an official waves a flag and the time is taken.  The steer is released and trots off.  There is a 5 second penalty for roping only one hind leg, and 10 second penalty for breaking the barrier.

A successful professional-level team takes between 4 and 12 seconds to stretch the steer, depending on the length of the arena.  At lower levels, a team may take longer, particularly if the heeler misses the first throw and has to try again.