How Do You Dally When Team Roping?


The dally is one of the most important skills to master in team roping. Dallying is the act of looping your rope several times around your saddle horn after you have successfully roped the steer. This creates a solid anchor and forces the steer to pull against the combined weight of you and your horse, rather than against your own grip. Simply put, without a quick and complete dally, there is no catch.

Things You'll Need

  • Rope
  • Roping gloves
  • Saddle
  • Horse
  • Rope the steer. If you are the header, be prepared for a sudden change in direction from the steer as the rope lands.

  • Hold the rope in both hands, thumbs up, hands shoulder-width apart. Let the rope rest in the "V" between the thumb and forefinger of your secondary hand. Grasp the rope in your dominant hand, loosely enough that the slack moves freely through your grip as the steer moves, but tightly enough to maintain control.

  • Bring your secondary hand within 1 or 2 inches of the saddle horn. With your dominant hand, loop the rope three or more times around the horn, keeping the loops as tight as possible.

  • Remove your secondary hand from the rope and signal your horse to stop. Be sure to keep your dominant hand out of the loops around the saddle horn.

  • Brace yourself firmly in the stirrups without lifting your weight from the saddle. Apply steady pressure to the rope end with your dominant hand, but be prepared to let go instantly if your dally fails. As the steer takes the slack out of the rope, it should pull taut and stay in place. Back your horse to keep the pressure on the line and keep your dally from slipping.

Tips & Warnings

  • The tighter you can get the loops around the horn, the faster it will cinch and the better your dally will hold.
  • When first practicing, start slow and exaggerate your movements. It's better to learn to do it slowly and correctly than fast and wrong. Speed will come with time, and you're less likely to hurt yourself if you're not trying to unlearn bad habits.
  • Team roping is a dangerous sport. Practice on a dummy until you feel confident enough to move on to a sled, then practice on a dummy for another few sessions after that. Don't attempt to rope and dally a live steer unless you've got all the movements completely mastered.
  • Keep plenty of slack between your dominant hand and the saddle horn. When the rope goes taut, any of your fingers that get caught between the rope and the horn are going to get broken and possibly even severed.
  • Never try a half-dally. If you don't have time to get the rope three full loops around the horn before the steer hits the end of the line, you don't have the steer. A dally of one or two loops is dangerous and prone to slip, possibly taking your finger with it.
  • Always wear protective gloves when team roping. A steer at the end of a rope can pull a lot of slack between your hands before you dally it, and the friction can cause serious abrasions or burns to your palms and fingers.

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