Bella hosted an old-fashioned, All-American, Memorial Day potluck BBQ .
The grill was sizzling, the coolers chilling, the ice cream maker churning, the tables groaning with food. There were friends, family, and horse people from every imaginable riding discipline. The youngest rider was 5, the oldest north of 70. Cowgirls, Dressage Queens, Backyard Riders, Re-riders, Hunters, Jumpers, Cowboys, riding kids, Trainers, Reiners, Ropers…you get the picture.
Once our bellies were full, the coolers somewhat emptied, and laughter was in the air, Bella brought out a bunch of practice ropes to show us how to rope.
She demonstrated. You throw the rope, the loop drops perfectly over both horns and slides tight in one quick, light, fluid motion. Pish. How easy is that?
There are three legal catches: full head, full horns, and half head (around the head and one horn).
Bella says “Anyone want to try?” The ropers looked…patient. Everyone else looked at each other with you do it faces. Shaun piped up: “Jane will!” She knows me. WHAT dignity?
I was a natural.
Okay, so I didn’t lift my arm up quite high enough during the whirling part, thereby hitting myself in the head and nearly knocking myself unconscious with my own rope. Hey. Everyone has a learning curve.
Whirl and throw. I had a catch! First time out and I nailed it, I zipped that puppy right up.
Minor detail. I roped…myself.
I gather (from the ensuing group hysteria) roping oneself is really hard to do. Wouldn’t this make me MORE of a natural, if it’s hard? It’s a good start, right? I roped something. But am I a quitter? Heck no! I just needto throw a little farther next time.
A roping cowgirl took pity on me, stilled my arm and made me rotate only my wrist to whirl the rope overhead. It takes MUSCLE to whirl that rope without moving your arm. Think 2-point, no stirrups.
Daisy had to duck a couple of times to avoid getting accidentally roped by me. As did several spectators. But I finally did manage to rope the very last two inches of one horn tip on the longhorn head. I had to be careful not to pull too hard so it didn’t slide off.
Duuuuuude. I’m ready for my PRCA, hand-tooled Prize Saddle. I actually caught something that wasn’t ME.
Bella steered me towards the pink cow head with the itty bitty stubby horns. Demoted to the kiddie pool. Sigh. Roll the wrist, try not to knock myself out with the rope, aim for landing the rope right to left across the horns, and BINGO. I got a legal catch! There was a hugely satisfying zipping sound of the rope sliding home through the, uh, hole (I’m sure this has a name) with a satisfying thunk. I was totally hooked. I wanted to hear that sliding zip…thunk…FREQUENTLY. All in all, I managed four legal catches.
I also managed to rope both my feet. And make the crowd dive a couple of times.
Ropers do this at a dead gallop with a weaving target that ducks. The idea of actually doing this on horseback seems absolutely INSANE. Impossible! Who could actually DO that?
Oh. Half the people there.
Standing two feet from an immobile target and, uh, roping, is Roping Lite. It’s Lead Line Roping. It’s not even roping kindergarten. It’s roping Pre-School. It roping finger painting.
Now I understand the patience on the faces of the ropers. They were gonna have to live through all of our “WOW, I can do this! This isn’t hard at all!” comments.
Uh-huh. Get back to them when you’re on a horse, the timer is going, and you have a cranky steer bobbing and weaving across the arena.
(Horse in the background is Hudson, who trotted over in glee the second he heard ropes whistling through the air. )