Clay Tryan Talks Dummy Roping for Kids
Tryan talks about how he works with his rope-crazy kids.

Credit: Courtesy Fast Back Ropes

Fast Back Ropes introduced the Bottlerocket this January, a new dummy rope just right for those long reaches. At 31 feet in length and 1/4-inch in diameter, it’s long enough to reach and small and light enough to allow smaller kids to develop a correct swing without developing bad habits. Above, Tyler Tryan, Clay’s 7-year-old, reaches with the Bottlerocket.

Why so serious?

Kids, especially when they’re younger, they’ve got to want to do it. I just let them have a bunch of dummies to rope, and they rope all the time. It’s amazing how much better they get as they just have a rope in their hands. As they get older, I’ll tell them more on the finer points, but for now I just let them rope.

Good example

My boys rope with my brother, Brady, and my cousin, Chase, a lot. They get to be hard on them, make fun of them and match them. It’s good for them. It makes my kids want to compete against them and beat them. That makes my kids better, roping the Smarty and matching them on the Fastlane. It pushes them without me having to say a whole lot.

Going horseback

Tyler, my oldest, is just starting to heel and head a little bit. I’m taking it slow. He really needs to learn to dally and ride his horse first. It can be dangerous starting them out on a horse, and I want to make sure he’s safe.

In schools, people want to haze the steer for the kids, and I stop the school and tell them to let the steer run to the right fence. I’ve seen some real wrecks, and it’s just about being aware of what can happen.

Dally work

When I learned, there were no roping machines. So my dad would take my burner apart, and we had rubber bands. I’d dally and the rope would pop off. Now, we can rope the Smarty and control it on the four-wheeler and keep it safe.


Tyler’s horse is the ideal horse. My brother-in-law, Matt Robertson, made the National Finals on her in 2001. She was young then, and she’s just really gentle. I’ve headed and heeled on her myself. She’s been to Houston with the fireworks going off and hasn’t moved an inch. I grew up on a horse like that. My dad had a horse that he made the Finals on and I could head or heel on her too, and that’s the way this one is for Tyler. Everyone wants their kid to have either a young horse they can rope on and grow up with, but they need an old horse. But not just an old horse, an old good horse so they can learn to do everything right. All the good guys I’m around didn’t grow up on a junky kids’ horse.

Junior rodeos?

My boys are too young and having too much fun right now, I don’t want to push them into the junior rodeos. We do a lot of dummy ropings and rope at the house. Who knows, they might never rope. But they’re having fun right now, so that’s what matters.

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