angle-left More Tips to Improve Your Roping, with J.D. Yates

More Tips to Improve Your Roping, with J.D. Yates

Learning to rope is only one part of becoming a great roper.

J.D. Yates turns a steer as soon Trey Yates heels it (Credit: AQHA)

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AQHA Professional Horseman and multiple AQHA world champion J.D. Yates lends his advice on how to become a well-rounded roper with a foundation that will make you and your rope horse a lasting and successful team.

  1. Don’t just go rope. Saddle up for 30 minutes and just go lope around without worrying about roping. Take a rope and carry it with you and swing it and play with it. The more you are on your horse and the rope is in your hand, the more natural it becomes. Have you ever watched young kids out riding? They don’t have to be roping to be happy. They’ll get on and lope anybody’s horse because they like to ride. Then they wind up being good ropers because they were good riders first.
  2. Avoid bad habits. One of the first things you should learn and practice is keeping the right position and staying safe. One of the bad habits I try to keep amateurs from developing in heading or tie-down is realizing that they’re leaving the box too early and then pulling on the horse. In the heeling, amateurs have a tendency to cut the corner and come in right beside the steer. If that steer falls or decides to drag, the horse could hit him and fall down. 
  3. Ask for help. If I have a problem with a horse, I go to some of the people I respect and ask for their help. The minute you quit learning in this industry, there is going to be someone ready to beat you every time. I want everyone to feel like they are welcome to come and ask me for help. Of course, I might not be the one who can answer the question, but I can find someone who can.
  4. Develop your own style. When I have someone who is just getting started, I start by watching them rope. Then, I am going to see what we can improve with the style that they already have to make them winners. When you attend clinics or ride with someone else, one misconception is that you will come out roping like the person you’re learning from. Develop your own style and then work to improve.
  5. Keep it fun. I’m lucky in that I have a lot of amateurs who do really well. The guys who rope with us have a lot of fun and try to help each other. They work together and have fun together. From a trainer’s perspective, when it stops being fun, it takes money out of my pocket and points out of our shows, because those owners and amateurs will go find some other hobby.