The Independent

Roping fingers will be pointing

Clearly, it is roping and rodeo season. One indicator is that the ropers’ magazines and papers are teeming with new events offering incentives prizes of big cash, saddles, trailers and fancy pickups.

It is enough to send a roping addict to a padded room when the weather refuses to cooperate with his itch and definite need to practice. This adds immeasurable value to any warm, clear days that might show up after a long winter of miserable roping weather.

One such long wet, cold spell was just ending and Joe Bob and Kyle were planning on making up for lost roping time.

Kyle and his prize roping horse Dunny rode into the arena.

“Man, Joe Bob, the arena looks good.”

Kyle had not really looked the arena over, but he knew that Joe Bob always liked a compliment for the hour or so he’d spent running the harrow over the sand. Even though that wasn’t the case this day, Joe Bob took the compliment anyway and they proceeded to warm up their horses.

Because they were turned out to pasture during the cold weather, the steers were spunky and fresh. Ready for the first run, Joe Bob backed into the heading box, pulled his hat down tighter even though his ears were already at a 90-degree angle, pushed his shades up, scratched his backside, tucked his rope and nodded for the steer.

Kyle, on the heeling side, made similar preparations and, thinking to encourage his horse a little, told him “OK Dunny, don’t do nothin’ stupid.”

The first steer broke from the box as if he was on a too-tight bungee cord. Joe Bob reached and roped him. Dunny had not calculated the ‘catastrophe response’ necessary for this steer and was just a tick late. No problem, they had him captured anyway, faced and full of themselves with the success.

“Ain’t nothin’ to this roping—we just needed a little rest,” commented one of the loopers.

The chute help, keeping quiet counsel, thought to herself, “Something comes to mind about fools rushing in.” Imminently, it would be apparent that the steers had all been “reprogrammed” during their weather-induced respite.

The next steer had developed a broken “rudder.” He broke from the chute, took a hard left directly in front of the heading horse and escaped to the corner of the arena. The one after that decided to come to a complete stop just as the head loop was launched.

The trend continued as a couple more steers showed that they, too, had developed head tricks that made life complicated for the ropers.

Joe Bob and Kyle took a break to plot strategy, knowing their current plan was not working well. Their calculated decision was to let the cattle out of the chute a little further, trick them into thinking nobody was in hot pursuit and then snare them with a big seine-style loop.

With that design in mind, when the next steer was out, Joe Bob’s head loop settled around the horns as soft as Mexico rain and he pulled the slack perfectly. They went left, made the corner and Kyle scooped up the back feet with ease.

Cowboy style and grace will prevail every time. It will, also, exit just as quickly as it arrived. Likely, bad weather roping days are not yet over, but ropers the world over are counting on a new season to bring major-league success to each of them.

Meanwhile back at the roping pens, no doubt about it, the steers are plotting how to foil that grand idea. Ask any roper that had a bad run and, usually, his first blame will fall on the cattle.

“We’d have been a six if that steer wouldn’t have ducked his head!”

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.