Written by: Speed Williams< Back to Articles
One of the most important things I learned watching my father teach people to rope was to help keep them safe. He would let headers start out with just one coil in their hands and the tail of their rope hanging down by their stirrup. There’s no option, when you throw your rope, you have to kick and keep riding your horse – or lose your rope.
Hali, my daughter, roped until June or July of this year with just one coil in her hand. She was a 4+ header, winning money and saddles, still using one coil. My theory is her hands are more valuable than any roping she could ever win. If the steers stops or drags, there are so many things than can happen to your kids, or any beginner, that can get them in trouble.
I highly recommend this for anyone who is learning, whether it’s kids or beginners. Let them build the loop the size they want, with the amount between their hands, then cut their rope off where the tail is hanging down by their stirrup.
I advise starting on a Hot Heels or mechanical dummy with their horse sitting still. They need to be able to sit on their horse, rope, pull their slack and then dally without the horse moving at all. They need to master these fundamentals at a stand still before attempting to rope a moving dummy.
The next step is to cover the same fundamentals at a slow walk. Rope, pull slack, and dally without letting the horse turn. By mastering basic fundamentals at this pace, the odds of staying in control at a faster pace are much greater. It’s very easy to get excited once things start moving.
I once had a school in Oklahoma where the head guy was notorious for ducking. Everyone at the school was related to him somehow. I told him before we started I could fix it, but I wanted to see how bad it was first. I let him run two steers, and it was pretty wild. The first steer wasn’t too bad, but the second was out of control. I rode up to him, grabbed his rope and cut it off where he only had a coil and no tail hanging.
Everyone was amazed when he wasn’t ducking anymore. He would rope, ride up and handle the steer. At lunch he said, “I had to ride, because I didn’t have any rope.”
It’s amazing how much better your mind works to engage your legs if you know you don’t have the luxury of going left and getting a dally. I have a simple rule at my schools – you get to lose your rope once. After that, I will make sure you don’t have enough rope to duck.
I recommend starting all youngsters and beginners out this way. It’s no more than a learning tool to help teach someone to ride their horse. I can’t begin to tell you how many young kids I’ve seen who are missing fingers and thumbs. It scares me to see kids rope with a long rope. It’s so important for them to learn to ride after they throw and stay in control.
Currently I’m working with Hali to help her learn how to reach. As a 5+ she will have to learn this to be competitive. I am working on a series of videos of drills including ground work. These are available to view at speedroping.com.