Horse Training for Team Roping

Delve into the world of team roping with three easy steps.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

It looks so easy when it’s done right, but team roping requires perfect timing, teamwork and a pair of horses who know exactly what to do and when to do it.

Between the two of them, Sunny Jim Orr and Billy Allen have more than a handful of world championships. As Sunny Jim says, training for the sport of team roping starts on the ground.

Team-roping gear doesn’t have to be expensive. An old saw horse with some tape and horns will make a perfect model for heading practice. As for heeling practice, a couple of posts driven into the ground will work perfectly for throwing a heel loop.


These three tips are just a small sample of the team-roping tips Sunny Jim Orr and Billy Allen offer in AQHA’s “Team Roping” DVD. Purchase this informative DVD for additional team-roping advice that’ll have you roping like a pro.

The two ropers advise practicing on the ground first, as it takes a lot of preparation to be ready for the saddle. Team roping is a sport that requires skill, timing and experience - not muscle and strength. It’s also one of the fastest growing sports today. If you want to be a part of the growth of team roping, check out these three tips offered by Sunny Jim and Billy:

1. Pick a Rope That Feels Right for You

As you start looking for the perfect first rope, make sure the honda is straight. Try to find a rope that’s not wavy and kinky, as well. Ideally, you should have a chance to pick up the rope and see how it feels prior to making a purchase.

2. Learn How to Throw a Rope Correctly

Throwing a rope is just like throwing a rock or baseball. You have to throw at the point you want to rope. If you release before or after that point, the rope will not go where you want it to go. It all comes down to follow through.

As you practice throwing the rope and dragging the slack back, you also want to learn how to drag the slack back with your thumb up.

Sunny Jim Orr and Bill Allen are no strangers to team-roping world championships. That’s why they teamed up with AQHA to create AQHA’s “Team Roping” DVD. Buy this horse-training video today so you can start working toward your own team-roping championship!

One common problem Sunny Jim and Billy find in beginners is the habit to only throw the rope using their wrist. In those cases, the rope can’t get the momentum it needs to make it to the target. Although many ropers like to throw the rope as hard as they can, you should throw the rope with the amount of power that works for you. Additionally, beginner ropers should develop a movement and a feel before anything else.

3. Stay on the Left Side of the Steer

The right rope and the right throw are just part of the process in team roping. The position of the horse is critical.

When you’re learning to rope the steer as a header, establish the habit to rope the steer off of his left hip. You’ll always want to drag the slack back down his left slide. Otherwise, you’ll cause the slack to come down just to the left of his backbone.

If you learn to rope off his left hip, when you do rope the steer, you’ll bring him back to the left. Team ropers want the steer in this position so he’s ready for the heeler.