Judge's Perspective: Roping a Good Score

AQHA judge Bill Enk discusses what correctness and speed look like in credit-earning heading runs.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

In roping, the fundamentals are what the rodeo cowboys take to make the fast runs, says AQHA judge Bill Enk. (Credit: Journal)

Showing horses is like being a salesman on horseback, and nowhere is it more difficult to separate the good salesman, in this case the roper, from the bad product, the poor rope horse. 

According to Bill, the challenge with judging roping is that “the cowboys are smart. Good ropers can take a horse that can handle well at high speeds and the roper can ride ’em there and they can rope ’em and they can fool you!”

If you know Bill, you can hear the smile in his tone.

“Ropers like the horses that are well trained and have good handle at high speeds – like cow horses. They can ride the horse to exactly where the horse needs to be for the roper to catch, giving the impression that the horse is a really good rope horse. In reality, they are just a really well-broke horse,” Bill says. “The really good ropers can ride those well-broke horses anywhere they want them to go, can catch the steer or calf because they can control the horse.”

But for horse showing, the purpose of the roping class is to find the horse with good fundamentals.

“Good rope horses are like good horses in any discipline: They first have to understand the fundamentals of their discipline,” Bill says. “In roping, the fundamentals are what the rodeo cowboys take to make the fast runs. So everything we look for in the fundamentals is eventually related to speed – how fast can the cowboy get in position to rope the steer or calf.”

Continue reading this article in the June American Quarter Horse Journal.

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