This past weekend, I attended a breakaway roping clinic in Helena. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have always wanted to learn how to rope. I’ve spent the last couple of months getting my horse legged up and trying to get myself in shape as well.
Being an older participant – fifty – I was excited, but apprehensive going into the clinic. As someone who had never roped, I just didn’t want to look like an old fool trying to recapture some long-forgotten youth.
I was more than pleased with the outcome of the weekend. Within the first hour of the clinic, I knew I had made the right decision in attending. Not only did I feel welcomed and accepted, I felt like I belonged in that group of people. I didn’t feel like an old woman. I felt like someone trying to learn a new skill.
The two instructors were friendly and engaging, and though they expected everyone to pay attention and put effort into the clinic, they offered help and plenty of individual instruction. They each answered questions and one-on-one tips, whether it was specific to roping or horsemanship. The hours flew by.
I normally hate people watching me, especially when I’m trying something new like that. But most of the other participants were friendly as well. Only a few had been to a previous clinic.
Because I was the only one who had truly never roped before, I felt like I had an advantage over those who had. I didn’t have any habits to break or any other instruction to un-learn. I’m not going so far as to say it was ‘easy’, but the way the ladies presented their method was simple and made sense to me.
They emphasized the ‘feel’ of the rope, and for some reason, that clicked for me. I picked up the swing pretty quickly, by the end of the second day, my swing was faster and more accurate. I was even getting my slack figured out, at least on the dummy.
I didn’t chase any actual calves this time. I wasn’t ready for that. And I don’t think my horse was either. If there had been any trotters, I might have jumped in and tried chasing a few. But the calves were way too fast. Next year.
I know enough now to practice more on the dummy, then transfer what I learned to my horse and work on those skills at that level. By next year, when there is another clinic, I’ll be ready for live calves. And who knows, maybe by next summer, I can actually compete.
I can understand how roping becomes so addicting. Even for us old-timers!