Get Short

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life

Say you’re out cowboyin’, just doin’ your thing, and you rope a big calf. You let some rope slide through your dallies to ease him to a stop, but then realize you’re a little long on your rope. What’s a person to do?

You can either A) get short or B) turn your horse, drive off and tell your heeler “He was loose when I caught him!”

If you want to be able to give your partner a good handle when roping, it’s essential to learn how to “get short,” or readjust your position so you are closer to the roped animal and thereby the length of rope between your saddle horn and the calf is shorter.

Getting short requires a roper to undally (aka “pop your turns”), ride quickly to the roped animal while holding the rope with just your hand, and re-dally without losing your rope and thus the calf. It’s a little tricky at first, but here’s the secret: Kick your horse. You cannot possibly stop the calf, which hopefully outweighs you by a few hundred pounds, with just your hand, so you must ride faster to catch up with the critter.

Here, Jim Young (my handsome husband) breaks down the basics of getting short. He didn’t know he was performing for a future blog post; he was just doing his cowboying thing while I was doing my camera thing.

Jim roped this big calf during a clean-up fall branding at the Spanish Ranch in northern Nevada. He was out a little far on the end of his rope, so…


…he popped his turns, kicked up his horse, and followed the calf around the trap while coiling up his rope. So much going on right now! It is a little confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s second nature.


See how he is intently focused on the roped calf? That’s important. You gotta keep your horse moving as fast as the calf, or your rope will get pulled through your hand quickly enough to leave a reminder in the form of a nasty rope burn.


And then the calf looked like he was going to pick up speed again…


So Jim took his dallies and shut ‘er down. His rope was short enough at this point, so he was ready to go anyway.


And he drove off toward the fire to give his heeler a nice handle at the end of a nice, short rope.


And that’s how it’s done! Any questions?

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

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

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