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The ultimate combination

Ralph Rud and Dave Mitchell practice team roping at Rud’s home near Everton.

By KATE THURSTON - kthurston@newsexaminer.com

It took one visit to the Rodeo Shop and Ralph Rud was hooked on team roping.

“One day my wife, Lisa and I went to the Rodeo Shop in Richmond and I saw some guys team roping. It took that one look and I wanted to do what they were doing. That was in the mid-90’s. I have always loved the West and the lifestyle, and here in Indiana, team roping was about as close as I could get to that lifestyle,” Rud said.

“I couldn’t wait to learn how to do it. I thought it was a real cowboy sport. We had run barrels and poles and what not, but that had lost its appeal to me. Team roping caught all my every attention and I couldn’t wait to learn it. “There was no one that roped here. I went to Greenville Ohio; that was the only place we roped at a place called the Cowboy Corral. That was the only operation we had.”

“When I got a little more experience and knowledge I rented some steers from a guy and built my own arena over by Oxford at the time where I was living. So many people watched us and wanted to learn and we started putting on clinics and lessons.”

“Then, we started getting good enough that we thought we could compete and did, so we traveled a lot. It caught on from there, like anything else. It is a very expensive hobby and it takes a long time to typically get to the level where you are competitive.”

According to ProRodeo, team roping is the only true team event. It requires close cooperation and timing between two highly skilled ropers – a header and a heeler – and their horses.

The event originated on ranches when cowboys needed to treat or brand large steers and the task proved too difficult for one man.

The key to success? Hard work and endless practice. Team roping partners must perfect their timing, both as a team and with their respective horses. Similar to tie-down ropers and steer wrestlers, team ropers start from the boxes on each side of the chute from which the steer enters the arena. The steer gets a head start determined by the length of the arena. From there, it’s game time.

Rud learned fast that team roping wasn’t a sport for someone who wasn’t patient. Team roping takes a lot of time and dedication.

“It isn’t something you just do, there is a lot of knowledge you have to learn. Fortunately for my buddies and I, some men who team roped and were good at it took us under their wing and then we went to a couple of clinics and a rodeo school to see what it took to learn the sport.”

Rud claims team roping is the absolute fastest growing horse sport there is, it allows you to compete with people of your own ability.

“There is a lot of danger to take at hand too, you have to learn the basics before, you can lose fingers if you don’t know what you are doing.”

Now that Rud has roping in his blood, he hosts several roping events at his home in Everton.

“Now, we have some folks from all over that come to rope. It has grown so much since I have started, while we may not have the density they do in the Western states, we have several people in Fayette County now that rope. There are many in Ohio and there are more and more around here are coming up.”

“I get a great thrill out of watching people that have something in common with me, when they take an interest I love it, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I am so happy to teach others and allow them to find a passion in this sport. It takes a person that has dedication and drive to be able to be a team roper. Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone get hooked on the sport, they realize why I love it so much,” Rud said.

“We have put on so many roping, bull riding events and so much more here because they are so tired of seeing the same thing, they want to see that western lifestyle. They want to see that speed and action, they want to have that job that people have in the west. They really just want to be a part of something like that, it is hard to find around here.”

Rud said people who want to learn must be patient and have the desire to rope.

“Find someone who knows what they are doing to help you get started and do not be afraid to invest in a nice rope horse that is ready. It is a sport you can’t give up on, you can’t get frustrated and give up. Team roping isn’t something that happens overnight, it takes hours upon hours of practice. Many practice for months on a dummy before they even begin to try from a horse on a real steer. It is a sport anyone can compete in; older adults, young kids, it is truly versatile. You just have to put in time and effort in to learn and do it safely.”

“I have always loved horses, cattle and cowboys. This is the ultimate combination of what I like to do.”