How do you find a good roping horse? While working on an assignment for a future podcast having to do with horse wellness and rehabilitation, I had the opportunity to once again visit with Champion Team Roper Denny Watkins. Denny has been to the National Finals Rodeo 19 consecutive times and has won just about every roping there is. And, he is not done yet. If you want to learn more about Denny, check out our December 2013 podcast, Team Roping with Denny Watkins.
I’m kinda a pain in the ass when it comes to talking about horses, especially a roping horse, with someone more experienced than me (that means almost everyone…yeah, scratch the almost). We finished the conversation on wellness – look for it in an upcoming podcast – and I really wanted to learn about how Denny evaluates a horse. Think about how many horses he’s seen. Think about all the hours and hours sitting in the saddle talking about horses, especially roping horses, between runs. Think about all the great horsemen he has crossed paths with over the last 25 years. Think about this vast wealth of knowledge. Yeah, I wanted to get a piece of it.
I pulled up to Denny’s ranch in northwest Bakersfield around one in the afternoon. He had just finished a morning session with several students. We got comfortable on his back porch with a view of three of his roping horses. One he was bringing along, one he was winning on, and one that was probably on the far side of his career. I talked to Denny about what made this horses special. I wanted to know how he evaluated a roping horse from the first moment he sees it. Denny was gracious enough to give a lesson.
So You Think You Want to Rope
You can’t talk to Denny too long without falling in love with the idea of roping. On a recent weekend my horse and I were exposed to roping. We got a chance to throw at a dummy. Thinking back to Denny’s evaluation of roping horses, I’m not sure if my horse has the best stride for a roper, she’s got a bit of a mind of her own at times, but the one thin she does own is “pretty” – that’s for sure. Yes, I have thought of roping. It is a very exciting sport. It’s fast. It has cows. And, team roping has a handicap system. I like that. A beginner can compete on a somewhat level playing field. Anything I do, I want to try and do well. I wondered how much of a commitment I would need to make. Yes, both financial and time and effort. Geesh!
Denny talks us through the whole process. You know, it’s not that tough. I’ve got me a bit of a used rope. I’m working on a set of cones from the ground. You may just live long enough to hear the tale of me and Jessie catching our first steer.
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John & Ranae