The Art of Roping

September 8, 2016


Madeline is the Ranchlands staff photographer and videographer.

Join us this July 2-9 for a roping clinic with master horseman Cameron Schryver at our first ever tent camp on Chico Basin Ranch! You’ll learn the art of this traditional ranching skill and sharpen your horsemanship in the process. The week ends in a branding where you can put your new techniques to practice roping calves.

Cost: $3,200 pp includes all activities, meals, and lodging in the new Ranchlands Camp. Book by April 15 to receive 15% off your stay! (Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.)

For more information: Ranchlands Stay

“Roping is one of the most satisfying things to do on a horse. It’s a necessary job requiring both skill and finesse that has been a tradition of American ranchers for hundreds of years. There is an excitement to the whole thing and a connectedness to land, cattle, people and horses that puts you back into the pastoral age that many of us miss, whether we know it or not. The recreational and competitive appeal of roping has led to a renaissance of the sport in rodeos and backyards across the country, making it equally accessible to those of us who are not ranchers. In this year’s clinic at Chico Basin Ranch, we’ll explore both the techniques and fun of working with a horse to rope cattle.

Horsemanship is the number one element. We’ll ride one-handed, handling the rope with our other hand and focusing on the cattle beyond our horse. We’ll be riding and guiding with our reins, our seats, our legs, our eyes and hopefully our minds. This is the best possible situation for improving your horse and horsemanship, because the horse and human must be in partnership. As in any kind of horsemanship, roping requires that the rider intuit what the horse needs in terms of support and direction, and when our support and direction are good enough, the horses get it (and they almost all do) and start to fill in and support us. The exercise of roping gives us this opportunity to collaborate with the horse.

Cam roping a sick calf at the Zapata.

I like to approach roping from the perspective of the rancher who owns the cattle. Efficiency is key. Ranchers aren’t interested in seeing people practicing fancy loops, missing the calf and stirring up the herd. Roping is a means to the end of getting cattle caught and on the ground to doctor or work as quickly as possible and thereby keeping the stress on the animals as low as possible. We will work with some fancy shots for fun, but I like to concentrate on high percentage, reliable shots. We want to do as much catching as possible. We’ll practice on both dummies and cattle, positioning for the best throw and dragging logs to make sure we can pull, turn and face up to what we have roped. We’ll work on dallying a lot. Dallying is the place where a lot of people have trouble and I have some good exercises to help riders get more confident with their ability to go to the horn. We’ll also practice ground work and best practices on getting cattle pulled down and placing the ropes so the animal can be safely worked by the ground crew. It all fits together.

The ability of horses to comprehend work and their willingness to do it always amazes me. Lots of horses out there that know exactly what’s going to happen when the rider tightens the cinch. They do a lot of hard work for us, and the fact that they will put their own spin on it is kind of incredible. I hope that you will all get this feeling during our week together.

One of the great things about clinics at the Chico or the Zapata are the people. The staff is always fantastic . The participants are folks that are really good at what they do in their other life. Evening conversations are eclectic, and world problems are often solved. The clinics run both ways. I learn as much as I teach. I can’t wait. I hope our arms and shoulders are worn out by the end of the week.”

-By Cameron Schryver

Photography by Madeline Jorden
// Music by Brent Rowan
About Madeline Jorden

Madeline is the Ranchlands staff photographer and videographer.