Question: Trevor, I grew up around team roping. I learned most of the basics from my grandpa and my dad, but they wouldn’t ever let me get serious about it for fear of being injured and jeopardizing a baseball career. I’m 31 now and have a strong pull to get back to my roots and start team roping. Comparing roping to golf: I played golf for years and never got any better. Finally took lessons, and I improved dramatically. I don’t want to make the same mistake with roping, so my question is: Should I seek instruction or experience first? And if instruction is the answer, where?
That’s an easy one. Definitely seek instruction first. If you learn and learn the wrong way, then you have to unlearn. Those bad habits are always lurking and, then, you’re trying to get rid of a bad habit instead of making a good habit.
But I do want to tell you that asking this question is a really good indicator of your potential for success in the arena. The fact that you care enough to be thoughtful about approaching roping the right way is impressive.
On to the part about where you should find instruction: That saying, “Those who can’t, coach,” isn’t really spot-on in team roping. If you can’t, don’t coach. There are calf ropers who study and know and can really teach well, but couldn’t translate it to performance through a lack of athleticism. But in team roping, there are so many people who rope well that you can get a foundation from someone really talented.
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You’ll want that person to help you focus on a good swing and a good delivery. And a good swing and a good delivery are useless if you don’t have a clear target to put with those two things, so you’ll want a coach who will help guide you in that. Your target goes with roping style—if you’re roping both horns at once or right to left, neither is right or wrong to start. Most learn how to head right to left. And most people end up roping both horns at the same time, but it’s a good stepping stone. When you decide you’re going to transition, make it really clear in your mind that you’re changing your target to the base of the left horn or the middle of the head. People will struggle when they make the change to roping both horns at the same time, but they never change their target to match the style they’re trying to emulate.
Now, as far as horsemanship goes: Learning horsemanship is as important to me as roping. But obviously, there are a lot of people who rope really well who aren’t focused on horsemanship. My perspective is that, if you don’t mix good horsemanship in with your roping, it will limit the end game of how successful you’re able to be. It’s one of the things that’s finally catching up to people. They’re realizing how important riding well and understanding your horse truly is. TRJ