Why Horses: When Horses Love The Work

It’s Why Horses? Wednesday.

When the horse loves his job, it’s magic.

I took this shot of the steer in the chute without registering the expression on the horse’s face.  Could it be any clearer?

That horse wants that cow.  The horse isn’t in the box, or in the hole.  He’s standing in line.  The horse absolutely knows not to move.  The reins are dropped on his neck, his rider is adjusting the rope  In fact, when the chute clangs open, the only thing the horse moves are his ears.  This is a horse that loves his job.  Steer looks pretty happy about the whole thing too.  Gotta say, it was clear to me that some of those steers were looking forward to trying to outwit the ropers.  Some were clueless, and some were all about giving those ropers a run for the money.

(Keep reading if you are interested in why we should ask lots and LOTS of questions when in Rome.)

A Jane “Oops” Moment

For reference: in photo, note the small electronic box on the rail.  This is one of two electronic ‘eyes’ for the timer.  (Jane did not know this.  Let this be a lesson to Jane.  Ask questions.  Lots and lots of questions.) They create an invisible line in the sand, so to speak.  Jane casually, mindlessly, walked through the barrier in front of 200 people, wrecking the time for a team, and disrupting the flow of the roping. The laser had to be reset, the team regrouped, and not one person said a rude word.

These guys get ONE shot: if they draw a good steer, have an amazing roping, and um, someone, wrecks the time registration on a good run, they have to try to repeat that with a new steer.  Ropers are a polite and generous group of people.  Unfortunately for Bella, she had already spread the word that Jane The Idiot was her friend, in order to allow Jane intimate access to ropers, horses, and prime shooting locations.  I’m not positive, but I believe this gaff to be the equivalent, in the roping world, of accidentally walking outside naked.  Who would do that?!  It’s an impossible thing to forget: putting on your clothes.  I think they were all horribly embarrassed for me.  I’m positive they were embarrassed for Bella. (Yes, I was mortified once I understood.)

More on the timer:

Timing starts when the steer breaks the laser barrier.  If a horse breaks it before the steer,  10 seconds are added to the run time.  If two people on two horses manage to rope one steer and set him up in 6 seconds, adding 10 more seconds is the kiss of death: it turns a 6 second run into a 16 second run.  No one wants to be responsible for doing THAT to the team.

I saw a 6 second run.  It’s astounding.

One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, four one-thousand, five one-thousand, six one-thousand.  Two people on two horses with two ropes just caught one steer and faced.  Next time you’re on your horse, count out 6 seconds and imagine doing that with another horse and rider, and a steer that has zero interest in being caught.


9 thoughts on “Why Horses: When Horses Love The Work

  1. Pingback: Lock N Load « The Literary Horse

  2. Michelle

    Sounds like a great environment! People that welcoming (and accepting of our novice mistakes) can really make an experience like this that much better. I’m glad you had a great time and got some good shots. I love that horse’s face. He’s a cutie!

  3. Andrew

    Have never seen roping in person, so to speak. The closest I’ve been was taking a brief ride on a former barrel-racing horse in an arena — and ‘wow’ — it made me realize how important things like the step-off leg in a turn can be. And what it might be like to ride the equivalent of a Ferrari, even an old model.

    You deserve praise for owning up to your mistakes. I’m too self-conscious about owning up to things like scouting ahead of the judges in a field trial! Doh!


    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      I have GREAT respect for endurance riders!
      Come to think of it, are there any horse sports that do not require really being able to Ride with a capital R?

      Some of my wow-that-is-awesome comes from noting a disregard in some circles for non-english style riding, and I want to shake that idea up.

      However, this is the wrong venue: I’m preaching to the choir here. You all get good riding is good riding, end of story. 🙂

  4. greyhorsematters

    I’m glad you were forgiven for your mistake. Love the faces on the horse and steer. They look like they are challenging each other. I’ve always thought Dusty would love to do the ‘cutting of the cow thing’. I can just see her getting down and dirty to not let a cow past her. This looks like you had a fun day, mistake or not.
    Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow.

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Thanks! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too. It was a very fun day, and I felt privileged to be welcomed into such a personal and special event.

      It was very interesting to watch the different horses, cows, and body language. Some I couldn’t tell, and others were immediately clear. Hudson goes after a steer with his ears pinned, head lowered, and teeth bared. He *wants* that steer.

      I’m hooked. I have no desire (or talent!) to become a roper. But I’m fascinated by it: it’s HARD, and takes a tremendous amount of practice and skill. You really have to be able to ride.

      I think cutting would be a blast. Like reining too.

  5. AareneX

    I’m so glad that you pointed out the expressions on the faces of horse and steer! Had you not, I might’ve just seen “horse and steer” and not seen those cool little smirks.

    I betcha the cowboy had a cool little smirk too, huh?

    Six seconds. That’s dang fast.

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      This cowboy was so nice. We chatted a bit.

      I think in this moment he was mostly just fiddling with his rope. But I did see this pair rope a number of times, and he’s a fierce competitor. Excellent horsemanship, and good roper too.

      Shooting photos of riders breaking out of the box, virtually ever rider has a ferocious Kamikaze expression.

      6 seconds: when the announcer called out the time, every roper there whooped. It’s very cool how they support each other.


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