Every person that has set about the task of training a horse to rope has done so with the same general principles in mind. The methods may vary, but for the most part are pretty much the same. Training has to start with a positive experience for the horse and then each step builds on the section before it. This is how it’s done.
After learning how to rope, virtually everybody’s goal is to get a horse to be able to cowboy up and rope as well. It’s a matter of pride that goes along with roping. That’s why I’m writing this guide for you. It will explain exactly how you can train your horse to be reliable at roping cattle.
Training A Horse To Rope
The first step in training a horse to rope is getting them used to the idea of working with a rope. You can do this by introducing the rope slowly, and letting them get used to it. Start by having them wear a halter with a long lead attached to it. The halter should have no bit in it, so it will not choke them if they pull back or try to bolt away from you during the training sessions. Then, hold the end of the rope in your hand, and let them get accustomed to touching and smelling it.
Once you have done this for several days, you can start tying knots into pieces of rope and having your horse chew on them while you are holding onto their halter with one hand, so they cannot run away from you while they are chewing on the knotty piece of rope with their teeth. Once they are comfortable doing this (which may take up to two weeks), then move on to attaching a small looped end piece of rope at one end that they can bite down on while chewing on another section – this will serve as their “reins” in future training sessions where both hands are occupied with other tasks such as holding onto
If you want to train a horse to rope, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have a willing partner.
If you’re looking for a horse that has already been trained, try visiting your local horse farm or riding arena. If you’re looking for a horse that’s untrained and hasn’t yet been broken in, try visiting an auction house where they sell horses by the pound.
Once you’ve found the horse that’s right for you, it’s time to get started!
First things first: make sure the horse is comfortable with being tied up and hitched up before starting on any new training. You can do this by spending some time just letting the horse get used to having its hooves picked up and its bridle put on so it doesn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary when it happens during training sessions later on.
Once this stage has been completed successfully (which may take several days), it’s time to start teaching your horse how to respond when it hears certain commands from its rider or handler. The first step in this process is teaching your horse how to stand still—this will help them understand what “stop” means later on when we start teaching them how to stop pulling back against their reins!
Training A Horse To Rope
Getting your horse used to having a rope thrown around is a helpful trust-building tool that helps teach your horse not to panic in certain situations.
Introducing your saddle horse to a lariat rope and getting him comfortable with it can go a long way in training him to be a safe, solid equine citizen. Even if you don’t plan on roping off of your horse, having him desensitized and comfortable with the rope around his body could keep you out of trouble. It can also be helpful when attempting to pony another horse, or even if your lead rope or mecate falls down around your horse’s legs while riding.
Here are four things you can do to start the process of getting your horse comfortable with the lariat rope around him.
1. Become handy with a rope
How well do you handle a rope? Are you comfortable with it in your hands? Are you able to build a loop? Can you coil up a rope, naturally and smoothly, without kinks in it? I’m not insisting that you have to be a great roper. However, you should get handy and comfortable with the rope in your hands. If you are not able to handle a rope well, it will be difficult to get your horse comfortable with it.
2. Introduce the rope with groundwork
You’ll want to begin by desensitizing your horse to the feel and sound of the rope on his body. Begin to use the rope on your horse’s body just like you would a brush. It would be as if you are grooming your horse with the rope. Be smooth and use rhythm with your movements. Start at a part of his body where he is comfortable and work toward those areas where he might be more ticklish. If he is touchy about the rope around his legs, rub him on the shoulder with the rope and move down his leg and back up again – before he gets bothered. This method of approach and retreat in these areas helps a horse grow braver and more confident. Take your time — these are things you want to check out and make sure your horse can handle.
You can also build a big loop, drape it over your horse’s hindquarters and lunge him in a circle. You want to make sure your horse is not worried and is comfortable with a rope dangling around his hind legs. This is where it becomes very important to be organized — you need to be able to handle your lead rope and lariat rope efficiently to keep your horse out of trouble. If he gets scared with this exercise, jerks away from you and runs off with a lariat rope around his legs, you’ll shatter what little confidence you established with him. Be sure and do all this groundwork equally on both sides. You want your horse to be comfortable dealing with the rope out of his right eye as well as his left.
3. Handling the rope while mounted
For the novice rider, just managing the reins and controlling the horse is a fulltime job. You need to be able to control your horse and handle the lariat rope simultaneously if you are going to carry it while riding. If your horse is apprehensive, you might find it beneficial to be in a smaller area, such as a round pen, during the initial stages. If your horse feels he needs to move his feet, you should direct him in small circles while moving the rope across his body smoothly and with rhythm, rather than pull back on the reins. Allowing him to move his feet will help him feel less trapped and get comfortable.
4. Building a loop
When your horse is comfortable with a coiled rope while mounted, you can build a small loop in it to show him that the rope can potentially grow. Hold the coils in your left hand, along with your reins, and build a small loop in your right hand. Passing the loop from the right to the left and back again is important. Begin to extend your arm out to the side and back again so your horse can get comfortable with the varied movements of your body and the rope. Now begin to swing the rope just a time or two. Not over your head, but off to the side and back behind your body. He’ll be less bothered if the loop is not swinging up by his eye. You can also place the loop right over his rump and allow him to walk in a few circles.
Again, it’s important to stay organized. You need to make sure you can remove the rope at any point and that you don’t get it up under his tail. Throw a few feet of your rope on the ground while holding the remainder in your hand. Begin to walk a circle around the rope, allowing your horse to look at it with his inside eye and get comfortable with its movement. Now you want to be able to coil your rope back up while mounted and build another small loop. Swing the rope once or twice and toss it out on the ground again. You need to do these things repeatedly until your horse becomes acclimated and comfortable with all kinds of movement with the rope.
While using the rope mounted, it’s important that you’re able to let go and get free of the rope at any time. If your horse gets scared and you feel he’s panicking, drop the entire rope to the ground and regain control of him. If this happens, it’s possible you got ahead of the game and asked for too much too soon. Now you need to go back a few steps and rebuild your horse’s confidence. This might mean revisiting some of the groundwork you did at the beginning. As one horseman said, “Take the time it takes and it will take less time.”
As mentioned earlier, you might not have any intention of actually roping off of your horse. However, there are many competitions that might ask you to pick up a rope, build a loop and swing it over your head. There are also classes that ask you to drag an object 20 or 30 feet. Whether you are a competitor or not, these lessons can pay big dividends. Mastering these techniques will build confidence and trustworthiness and make your horse a better-rounded equine partner you can count on.
Dragging objects while mounted
When your horse is completely comfortable with all the steps in this article, you might consider teaching him to drag a small, light object. This might be a tire, a pole or something similar. If the object is too heavy to pull with just your hand, it is probably too heavy to begin this part of the training. Never, ever tie the rope to your saddle while asking your horse to drag an object. This is a recipe for disaster. As mentioned in the article, it’s important that you can let go of the rope and regain control of your horse at any time.
Follow the same procedure you did when you were introducing your horse to the end of the rope on the ground. Walk him in a circle around the object, allowing him to see its movement as you give and take the slack out of the rope. At this preliminary stage, this circling method will keep the rope from getting behind your horse’s rump and scaring him. As your horse becomes more confident, you can begin to travel in straighter lines and eventually start moving in the opposite direction with the rope rubbing against his rump.
When your horse sees the object move on the ground, he can become very apprehensive and scared. It is certainly appropriate to go back to groundwork and acclimate your horse to the object’s movement before you get back on. Remember, this is a building process. Each step should be thoroughly mastered before attempting the next. Some horses become acclimated and comfortable with the roping procedure very quickly. Others take much longer and numerous sessions are needed to get to that place.