The Positive in Roping Gone Wrong

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life, Rodeo

I started swinging my rope in the box just like my husband advised me, then nodded for the steer and squeezed my horse with my legs. Shorty had me in throwing position in just a few strides, so I opened my hand and…watched my loop whack the steer on his back.

What the heck.

Who threw that loop? I was aiming for his head!

My goal was to get a time on the first loop this year at the ranch rodeo in McDermitt, and I didn’t make it. I was disappointed, but I rebuilt and got into position again at the far end of the arena, then threw my loop and…watched the rope-savvy team roping steer duck to avoid my loop at the last split second.

Dang it.

A no-time AGAIN!

The only times I’ve ever steer stopped have been at the McDermitt ranch rodeo on the Fourth of July. Somehow, I’ve always ended up on Jim’s team ever since I was four months pregnant with our first baby. I have the roping bug, but I’ve never done very well in the arena in the steer stopping event. I’ve never gotten a chance to practice due to being pregnant, living on a remote ranch, taking care of babies, moving, pregnant, remote ranch, repeat. Roping the dummy in the yard doesn’t give quite the same preparation as roping live cattle. I’d only ridden twice this year before competing, and I switched horses since my regular mount was lame.

But, rodeo is a timed event, and the stop watch doesn’t care about my excuses. The beauty of the sport is that everybody is on a level playing field when they ride through the gate. So, I didn’t win any money this year, but the major positive outcome is that I found my horse. Shorty fits me much better than Teaks, the horse I previously rode.

I’ve always preferred Teaks because he’s super gentle and doesn’t buck, two qualities I value very highly now that I’m a mother. My husband, Jim, had been urging me to try riding Shorty lately. “Once you rope on Shorty, you’ll want to stand there and throw rocks at Teaks.”

Disclaimer: we don’t actually throw rocks at our horses. It’s just an expression.

Teaks currently has a sore muscle, so I switched my saddle to Shorty a few days before the Fourth and branded some calves on him. He felt great! He was way more user-friendly than the high-maintenance Teaks, and I was able to focus more on roping and what I was doing rather than what my horse was doing. When I roped on him at the rodeo, he stood flat and quietly in the box, then broke smooth and fast and responded with a big ol’ smooth stop when I asked him to.

So, the positive outcome from my no-time run in McDermitt was that I found my horse. Even though each rodeo run is a sprint, a rodeo hobby is a marathon, so there will be plenty more rodeos for me to compete in.

Here’s a shot from branding on Shorty (I’m on the right) as my warm-up to roping for the rodeo. He’s like a little cartoon character – all red and round and goofy-acting, but he can pull a big cow or another horse around on the end of a rope better than some bigger horses can. Riding Shorty, I know I’ll have more fun and success in the future.

Photo by Shawn Biggs

me and shorty roping

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life, Rodeo

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

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