Friday, March 11, 2011

Beginning Roping

I received an e-mail request from Joanne, who if I remember right was from southern Georgia, and wanted to learn how to rope. Joanne didn’t say if she was interested in arena roping/team roping or if she was just interested in learning how to use a lariat as I believe it is a good tool for most all riders to carry.

Lets start with the rope. I prefer a 5/16 inch diameter rope, true or scant, in nylon, with a metal honda, in a XXS lay. I prefer the NRS ranch rope, link below, but Craig Cameron also offers a good rope. The NRS rope comes in 60 foot lengths, which I cut and burn at 48 feet just for my preference. More rope than that, is just too much to manage in my off hand with the reins and all. Craig's ropes come in 50 foot lengths and I have two of them, which I just leave at 50 foot. You would not be disappointed with a rope from Craig Cameron.

Craig Cameron 50 foot Horse Handling Lariat Rope

phone: 800 274-0077

NRS Nylon Ranch Rope 60' Buckaroo Honda 5/16"!CALLA

phone: 800 467-6746

I must have about 6 or 8 Fastback or Cactus ropes, left over from when I was arena roping, but at around 31 feet they are too short for me as a working rope. The header ropes are going to be a softer lay than the healer ropes. The healer ropes are longer, generally 35 feet, but just too stiff of a lay for my tastes. I think the lay is more important than it being nylon or poly blend.

I think everyone, recreational rider or cowboy, needs to carry a rope and at least have a rudimentary idea on how to use it. I coached more than a few people on the basics of roping. And I'm just a mediocre roper. I really suggest partnering with a roper in your area. Face to face, in person learning is much better and practically any team roper will fall of his/her horse to help someone learn. If not then I suggest Buck Brannaman’s excellent book “Ranch Roping with Buck Brannaman”, available from

Roping videos are available through National Ropers Supply as well.

I have used my ropes for impromptu halters or ponying horses out of the desert. Once I used it to pull a partner of mine up a hill when he had to climb down an embankment to get his hat.

I like the metal hondas as they swivel and are much easier to get kinks out of so you can build a faster second loop when your first loop misses. Been there a million times. Plus I think the metal honda gives you a few feet more of reach - important when a cow is stuck in a mud hole and you want to rope her to get her out with your horse on dry or solid ground.

Hope the video can provide the basics for you to work on. Start real close to your target,…a traffic cone works well,…..when you spin your loop, try to keep it parallel to the ground, release and turn your hand over (palm down) and helps to point your index finger at your target. And keep your thumb up when you draw the slack out of the rope after your throw. This is a good habit to keep you from dallying around a saddle horn and pinning your thumb to it with the rope. People get their thumbs cut off that way.

hope this helps, safe journey.

1 comment:

  1. Mr FunctionalHorsemanship, can you do another roping video with close ups on how you hold the rope with both hands? thanks for the stuff in advance and thanks for the site. Jerry