"There’s only one thing worse than eating next to a left-handed person, and that’s heading for him. It’s like trying to screw the male end of a garden house into the matching threads on your stock tank drain.”
So spoke Bob to Allen, two fair-to-middlin’ team ropers, both fives, in the prime of their addiction. The equivalent of two-pack-a-day ropers.
“Yeah, team ropin’s gone to hell,” answered Allen. “Used to be one guy had an arena and twelve guys came to his place to rope. You got in good practice, lots of pretty good ropers. It was a social occasion, too.
"Nowdays, everybody’s got an arena and nobody comes. You have to rope with your wife and she’s learning to barrel race. Fair is fair, so now all my rope horses run barrels too. And of course, she isn’t interested in learning to heel, so you have to.”
“Right,” said Bob. “Denny Gentry ruined everything. USTRC has made team ropin’ so popular every horseshoer, ex-vet and dairyman thinks he’s Alan Bach.”
“I know,” said Allen, “It’s also attracted so many social ropers with money that I’m embarrassed to buy a new trailer. Used to be the best ropers pulled to ropin’s in their 12-year old stock trailer with recaps and rust holes for ventilation. There wasn’t enough money in ropin’ to cover the cost of gas.
“At ropin’s today there’s so many duallies and three-horse slants with dressing rooms, it looks like a Arab horse show. And the guy can’t even through a rope!”
“I know what you mean,” said Bob. “I’ve got a motley hand full that come to my arena. I get to head but it’s a rare occasion they ever catch. I’m always havin’ to offer constructive criticism or advice. It’s like a continuing team ropin’ clinic for the ability deprived.
"There’s only one left-handed guy that goes through horses like an Amish trader. He still thinks it’s the horse’s fault! But I’m lucky I’ve still got a few traditional heelers that come by. You know, fresh divorced, ridin’ a house that’s for sale and pullin’ a ‘92 Hale two-horse rig. A real roper that gets there after you’ve wrapped the hons and drinks your beer. But at least I feel like I’m practicing ropin’ and not just practicing practicing.”
“Yeah, they’re in demand,” sighed Allen.
Bob continued, “I’ve even fenced off an area in the arena for kids. Swing set, ropin’ dummy and park bench with some shade. Sort of day care whey they have the kids on weekends.”
“Day care …I like that,” mused Allen.
“Yup,” said Bob, “If you’re gonna have your own arena you gotta learn to compete.”
Baxter Black is a cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper, who now lives in Arizona and travels the country, tormenting cowboys instead of cows.