How to Calf Rope

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Calf ropers are rodeo contestants who compete to see who can lasso a calf and tie it up in the least amount of time. The calves are released into the arena, and the contestant, on horseback, tries to catch the young cow quickly. This sport is based on the round-up duties of old-time cowboys. Read on to learn how to calf rope.

Things You'll Need

  • Couple of boys
  • Horse
  • Lariat
  • Friend with his own horse
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Calf

Choose and Prepare Your Rope

  • Buy a 34- to 35-foot-long Manila hemp rope to use as your lariat. Manila rope is sturdy, but also flexible enough to use efficiently.

  • Break in your rope. Get rid of kinks in your rope by tying it to the back of your saddle and letting it drag in the dirt for a day or so. You can also tie weights to the ends of the rope and hang it along a fence to condition it.

  • Waterproof your lariat. Coat your entire rope in petroleum jelly or a commercially available waterproofing agent. Without waterproofing, Manila rope will lose its rigidity once it gets wet.

Learn to Rope Moving Targets

  • Get a couple of young boys to help you practice roping a moving target before you try your hand at calf roping. Ask the boys to lock arms and run past you in a field. Shake your lariat out in a large loop, then swing and aim to catch the boys around the waist as they run past you. Keep practicing until you can rope them regularly.

  • Move on to practicing roping horses. Ask a friend to ride past you on his horse as you sit atop your own horse. Toss your lariat and tighten it on the horse as it gallops past you to hone your skills.

  • Keep honing your calf roping skills with practice.

Compete in a Rodeo

  • Wait behind the start rope as the calf is given a head start. Once the calf is far enough away, the string in front of your horse will pull away.

  • Spin your lariat over your head, keeping the noose in a tight 6- or 8-inch circle. Aim just ahead of the calf and toss your lariat around its head.

  • Pull the lariat tight and dismount. Run up to the calf and sweep your arm underneath the calf to take its legs out from under it. Using your lariat, wrap up three of the calf's legs. Throw your hands in the air to stop the race clock.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choose 3/8-inch rope if you are a beginner (this lighter rope is easier to learn with). Select 7/16-inch-wide rope once you are ready to compete as a calf roper.
  • Aim your lariat throw a few inches in front of the calf. It is moving, so if you aim directly at his head your throw will fall short.

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