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All About Team Roping

team roping

Team roping is one of the oldest and most traditional team rodeo events in the world. It is an exciting sport, combining speed, skill and agility as two riders work together to capture a calf or steer in record time. The competition begins when one partner (the “header”) ropes the animal around its horns while the other partner (the “heeler”) ropes its feet. The two riders must work together in perfect synchronization, and the fastest team wins.


Team roping can trace its roots back to the early days of American ranching. It was first developed by cattle ranchers as a way to quickly and humanely capture and process their herds. Over time, the sport evolved into an organized competition, with teams competing for prizes at rodeo events across the country.


There are two key pieces of equipment used in team roping:

  • Rope – The rope used must be at least one inch in diameter and 30 feet long. Ropers are allowed to use any type of fiber, so long as it is soft and pliable. The most commonly used material for team roping ropes is polyester or nylon. The heeler’s rope is longer, usually between 35 and 36 feet long. It is a lot stiffer. 
  • Horn wraps – Horn wraps are protective wraps placed on the horns of the steer to prevent injury. The horn wrap consists of several layers of material, often cotton or polyester webbing, and is usually secured with Velcro straps.
  • Roping gloves – Roping gloves are an important piece of equipment for team ropers. The gloves provide a better grip on the rope and protection from the friction caused by the rope. They also help to reduce the risk of blisters, cuts and abrasions.
  • Western saddle – A western saddle is a type of saddle designed to provide comfort and stability while riding. It typically has a deep seat and wide stirrups, which allow the rider more freedom of movement. The western saddle also features a horn, which provides leverage for roping practice and competition.


Team roping is a rodeo event in which two riders attempt to rope a calf or steer. One rider, the “header” lassos the steer’s horns, while the other rider, the “heeler” ropes both hind legs. This exciting and challenging sport requires teamwork and quick reflexes.

The competition begins when the steer is released from a chute. The header must rope the horns of the moving steer as quickly as possible, while the heeler ropes both hind legs. Once both ropers have successfully captured their targets, judges will time them from start to finish. 

Team roping events hosted on a local, regional, or national scale are sanctioned by many organizations. Generally speaking, the following rules apply to all of them:

  • Depending on the organization, if the barrier is broken there is a 10-second or 5-second penalty.
  • Missing a leg will cost you dearly since 5 extra seconds of time are added to your score if only one is caught by the Heeler.
  • Unless the steer’s head is facing away, a Heeler cannot make their throw.

World Record 

Team roping is all about speed and accuracy, so it’s no surprise the world record for the fastest time stands at 3.3 seconds. This feat was accomplished by Jade Corkill and Chad Masters at the 2009 NFR.

How to Team Roping


What is a good time for roping?

A good time for team roping is typically 5 seconds or less. The average time for a head catch is 8-9 seconds.

What is a roping horse called?

A roping horse is typically a Quarter Horse or a Paint Horse. These breeds are known for their agility, speed, and strength.

Who invented team roping?

Team roping is believed to have been invented by Spanish Caballeros in the late 18th century. The sport has become popularized in recent decades and is now featured at rodeos across the United States. 

How is team roping scored?

Team roping is scored by time, with the fastest team winning. The clock starts when the steer is released and stops when both rope handlers have caught the animal (one person each on the head and heels). Depending on the type of event, adding time penalties for missed throws may apply depending on the rules of a particular competition. Penalties may also be assessed for breaking the barrier line.

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