To keep roping skills sharp, it's hard to beat dummy roping. Nick Sartain, a 2009 world champion header, shares his tips for tossing a loop.
by Amy Arden
Set the scenario
Dummy roping allows you to practice several scenarios in a short amount of time, such as varying distances and angles. Always approach the dummy from the left side, and always use your right arm to swing the rope (even if you are left-handed). You never want to throw across your body. Start with a distance of 10 or 12 feet and then vary it throughout the practice.
Get in the loop
Take your rope in your left hand and build a set of three coils; make a loop from the remaining rope. As a general rule, Sartain recommends making the loop twice as large as the horns, and make sure the slack between your loop and coils is sufficient. There should be enough to hold the coils in your left hand and freely extend you right arm and loop away from your body.
Take a swing
Tuck the loop under your right arm, and get into position. As you move toward the dummy, untuck the looped rope and grip it one to two feet back from the eye splice (the hondo). Using your entire right arm, swing the rope counter-clockwise just above your head.
Release the rope toward the right horn and follow through with your right hand in a downward motion, across the horns from right to left. Legal head catches include roping around the horns, around the neck, or around the neck and either horn (half head). As soon as the rope catches, pull your slack. Remove the rope by hand, and go again! Sartain notes that the biggest mistake novices make is releasing too early, which causes the rope to go to the right. If it goes to the left, you’re hanging on too long.
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