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Choosing the Right Rope

Choosing the Right Rope

Da: 2021 Classic Rope EquibrandCommenti: 0

Team roping was born out of necessity hundreds of years ago, on the ranches of the Old West. Cowboys learned to work together to bring down a steer. This way they could treat injuries or brand an animal once it was safely restrained.


Beginners typically start out using a rope with a smaller diameter. You’ll need a comfortable grip on the rope and the reins in the same hand. Team roping ropes are most commonly ⅜” thick. In roping lingo that’s known as “full” or “true”. A smaller diameter is known as “light” or “scant”.


Head ropes measure between 30-32 feet. While heel ropes come in around 35 feet. It’s best to start with a head rope while you’re learning. The shorter length is easier to maneuver and pack up.


The weight of your team roping rope is all about preference. A heavier rope takes less effort to keep ground contact with the bottom of the loop. A lighter rope has easier handling. Swing a few to see what feels best to you. More than likely, you’ll switch things up a few times before settling on your preferred rope weight.


The softness or stiffness of a team roping rope is known as the “feel” or the “lay”. Start with a soft lay as a beginner. They don’t need a lot of waving, which makes them a good choice when working with a practice dummy. You’ll be able to feel the tip of the rope more as it’s swinging and turning around your head. A harder feel is often the rope of choice for fast-swinging ropers. The loop remains more open against the force of the swing. Overall, you’ll likely see headers using softer feels and heelers opting for medium to medium-hard feels.


Team roping ropes are constructed from 100% nylon or poly-nylon blends. 100% nylon ropes maintain a consistent shape and feel. They also break in easier and keep that new stretch feeling. Poly-nylon blend team roping ropes offer more body. This means you can feel their weight in your hands. That feeling helps you throw an open loop. Because of this, you’ll often see poly-nylon ropes used to rope cattle with long horns. These ropes have more memory, which we’ll talk about later.

Importance of Buying Season and the effects of weather. Because weather changes impact ropes, weather dictates the way Classic ropes are manufactured. The amount of twist put into ropes and the kick (the amount ropes are pushed out at the bottom) are adjusted for different seasons. This ensures quality and consistency in feel, regardless of conditions. Always remember to store your rope bag at room temperature for best-keeping.

  • Cold weather relaxes fibers causing ropes to soften and lose kick, therefore causing backswing. Try a firmer lay for cooler weather.
  • Hot weather tightens fibers causing ropes to harden. Try a softer lay for warmer weather.

Headers and Heelers use Different Ropes
Head ropes need to catch a steer by its horns. Headers use shorter ropes with a softer lay to get the loop to open and lay around the horns. Heel ropes are longer with a harder feel. They need an open loop that stands up more so it catches the hind feet of a steer. In the same way an artist selects their paintbrush based on the size of their project and materials, a roper may choose their rope based on the event’s steer. If possible, you may want to take a glimpse before the event starts. Are the steer young or old? Short-horned or long? Young or smaller-horned steers respond better to light, softer laying ropes. The fast-closing loop of a 100% nylon rope may fit the bill. Older or larger-horned steer generally need an extended open loop during the throw. A stiffer lay polyblend will get the job done.

Headers (Heading Ropes)
The head rope is usually 25 or 30 feet in long.
Types of Cattle and Weather
Most of our professional ropers carry ropes with both softer and stiffer lays to be ready for any situation. With two factors - weather and cattle - determining which rope they choose, most use a softer lay for small horned cattle and a stiffer lay for bigger horned cattle.

Heelers (Heeling Ropes)
The heeler's rope is usually 35 or 36 feet in length and is a lot stiffer (meaning it contains less flexibility and is more rigid to catch the feet).
From 3-strand to 4-strand

If you normally use a 3-strand rope and are trying a 4-strand for the first time, you should try one lay softer than you normally use. 4-strand ropes have more body in the tip than 3-strand ropes, so a softer lay in your hand will yield the same body of harder lay.

Storing Your Ropes
Coil your ropes as big as you can and place your hondas on top in the correct position. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help if you are unsure of how to properly position the honda. Be sure not to over-stuff you rope bag, as this can cause unnecessary pressure on the eyes (causing them to turn), as well as causing coils to bend or kink. Powder and store in a cool, dry place at room temperature. You’ll know it’s probably time for a new rope when you spot extra rubbery or slippery spots where you dally your rope. Any kinks or frays also signal its time for a replacement.

Breaking in your Classic Rope correctly can extend the life and use of it
You're at the practice pen or the jackpot with your new rope, and it feels great after a few steers. After several more steers, the rope feels a little softer, deader, and a little warn out. What happened? When a rope is first used, the fibers are stretched and pulled apart, causing your rope to soften a little. After roping five to eight steers, your new rope should be coiled up and left to rest for 24-hours. This time allows the rope's fibers to return to position and set the molecules within fibers, giving the rope strength. Roping too many steers with a new rope over-stresses the fibers, prohibiting them to take a set. This break down of fibers is what causes the rope to lose its body and feel. By simply allowing your rope to rest, you increase the longevity of your purchase. Never start an event with a fresh rope. Start the break-in process by working on a dummy. Then you can adjust the size of your loop and coil without the stress of working with a live animal. Once you feel ready and confident, practice on live steer. And ideally, many times. This will help your rope stretch and get it ready for competition. Tie it up and pack it away until your event.

Your Rope Has Memory: Just Like You. We just discussed how weather changes can impact your rope. Because of this, seasonal changes dictate how we manufacture ropes in order to achieve the best performance possible. It is important, then, for the consumer to understand that the honda, or "eye" of the rope is positioned for the season in which it is tied; A rope tied for cold conditions may want to roll to the left when introduced to warmer climates. Another reason for the movement of the eye is that the ropes are constructed from nylon, which has memory. The natural loop can force the eye to turn left; If left alone, the eye will remember the incorrect position, and remain there. Neglecting to fix the eye will result in a negative 180-degree roll, making the rope useless. To remedy the problem, simply remember to take the eye and roll it back past your preferred position, hold it there for about ten seconds, then position the eye where it best suits you. Performing this simple procedure will give you a longer and better performance from your rope. Some team ropers will tie their rope to a fencepost before an event. This encourages the gaps to open between the crowns. That stretch “resets” a rope to give it that new feeling.

Header ropeHeeler Rope

Ropes are like jeans. You never know how they’ll fit until you try them on. Try everything until you learn what feels comfortable. Ask questions and test out ropes that have been used by others. You’ll gain useful insight into their reasoning and why they made certain choices. 

Choosing the right team roping rope can greatly influence your performance, whether you’re a header or a heeler. Once you have the correct gear in hand, you’ll be ready to move on to the next step. 

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