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Team Roping

Photo: Jason Butson

Team roping, the only true team event in rodeo, requires close cooperation and timing between two ropers — a header and a heeler — and their horses. The event originated on ranches when cowboys needed to treat or brand large steers and the task proved too difficult for one man.

Similar to tie-down ropers and steer wrestlers, team ropers start from the boxes secured by rope barriers and on each side of the chute from which the steer enters the arena. The steer is given a head start which is determined by the length of the arena.

When the steer reaches its advantage point, the barriers are released and the cowboys race out after the steer.

The header throws first, hoping to catch the steer around the head.  After the header makes his catch, he wraps the loose end of the rope around the saddle horn, called a dolly, and he turns the steer to the left.

The heeler then attempts to rope both hind legs of the calf.  After the cowboys catch the steer, the clock is stopped when there is no slack in their ropes and their horses face one another.


Team roping is a timed event with the clock starting when the steer clears the barrier rope and stopped when they have roped the steer and are holding it still through tension in the ropes.  Should either of the cowboys break the barrier early, they will incur a 10-second penalty.

The team will be disqualified if the header fails to make a legal catch on the steer.

If the heeler catches only one foot, the team is incurs a five-second penalty. Also, the steer must be standing when roped.

In team roping, there are only 3 legal head catches:

  1. Around both horns
  2. Around neck
  3. Half head catch

If honda passes over 1 horn and loop goes over the other horn, the catch is illegal.  If  the loop crosses itself in a head catch, it is illegal.