Are Your Kids Having Fun in the Arena?
Written by: Speed Williams< Back to Articles
A couple of weeks ago I asked my son, Gabe, to ride some head horses for me. My wife has a horse, Deputy, that she hasn’t been riding, and Hali has one she hasn’t been able to ride. I promised Gabe if he would ride these horses I would take him to some ropings. After watching videos of Gabe roping on my website, Lloyd South called and asked if Gabe would head for him in the #9 and #8 at Robertson Hill on Tuesday night. The ropings were limited to thirty teams, so it would be a short roping on a weeknight.
Gabe turned all ten of his steers. He and Lloyd caught all four steers in both the #8 and #9, winning 2nd in the #8, and 3rd in the #9. My little man was some kind of pumped up on the way home after winning money.
It was like that with Hali also. I really didn’t want either of them to rope much until they were 11, 12, or 13 years old. At that age they are big enough and strong enough to ride, control their horse, and handle a rope.
When Hali caught the roping bug she was playing travel softball and going to a lot of tournaments. She went to a roping, won some money, and the very next weekend we went to a softball tournament. The temperature was in the high 20’s and the wind was blowing about 20 mph. They played all day long, placed second, and won a trophy.
I will never forget the look on her face. She looked at me and said, “Daddy, I don’t have a muscle in my body that’s not sore from playing ball for the last two days. Can I buy a hamburger with this trophy?” I told her, “No, you can’t.” Her answer was, “I won money last weekend and my horse did all the running. We might need to rethink this softball.” I assured her it was her decision. It wasn’t long after that she was a full time team roper. Now after winning some money, I think Gabe will do the same. Only time will tell, but we are planning for him to rope at the Big Break roping in the #10, #9, and if he has the energy, maybe the #7 too.
If you want your kids to rope, it’s important they have fun and enjoy it. That means they need to be on horses that give them a chance. The worst thing for them is to be on a horse they can’t control. When they pull on the bridle reins, their horse needs to respond.
Accidents can always happen, as with any sport. I teach them safety by practicing fundamentals at a slow pace on the Hot Heels, using a short rope to prevent ducking, and having them mounted on a horse they can control and feel confident on.
Most parents that rope also want their kids to rope. They have to want to, you can’t make them or they will quit. I have seen clients break the spirit of their kids when they sell their horses out from under them. If their child doesn’t show the interest they think they should, they sell their horse, devastating their kid, and that’s the last thing I want to do.
My father trained and sold a lot horses. He used to sell horses all the time that Mom and I wanted to keep. Now as a parent, in our family everyone has the prerogative to put their name on one horse that can’t be sold. If someone offers to buy one, we have a board/family meeting and discuss it. Sometimes the outcome doesn’t turn out the way I want, but I don’t want to do my kids like my dad did us. I want my kids involved and out there helping. I want them to make decisions and understand the consequences of those decisions.
I’m beyond happy that my kids want to rope. They have always had the option to play other sports or have other activities and we have supported them in those activities. But I have also worked at making roping fun for them.
Please feel free to visit speedroping.com to watch videos of Gabe or Hali roping. Sign up for a free membership and browse any unlocked video. You can use search function using names or to find videos on a variety of topics.