Team roping is a rodeo event where two contestants work together to rope and immobilize a steer. The ropers each have a role; one serves as the header and the other as a heeler. Their goal is to cooperate in their roles and rope the steer in the least amount of time possible.
Team roping is a difficult, and entertaining event. If you’re new to team roping as a spectator or a participant, there are some important rules to understand. This includes the crossfire rule, which we’ll soon discuss. So, what is a crossfire in team roping? Read on to learn that and much more.
All About Team Roping
Team roping is considered the only real team event in the professional rodeo circuit. It takes a ton of teamwork and many long, grueling practices to become successful in team roping. Generally speaking, team ropers will use the American Quarter Horse in this event. The ‘Header’ horse will likely be the taller and stronger of the two horses, whereas the ‘Heeler’ Horse needs to be swift and nimble as it follows the steer and needs to be able to react to how the steer moves. The overall time and timing of the ‘catch’ are crucial in this event.
Team Roping Basics
Team roping starts with the ropers in their own box on either side of the chute. When the chute is opened for the steer, it is given a head start. Upon reaching the advantage point, the ropers are cleared to pursue the steer, and their barrier is released. The Header will begin the pursuit, and the Heeler pursues from behind. If one of the ropers breaks the barrier before the steer reaches its advantage point (typically the Header) then a 10-second penalty is assessed to the team. Many rodeos will have a Header and Heeler barrier.
The Header attempts to rope the steer first in one of three legal ways. These legal catches are where the rope goes:
- Around both horns,
- Around one horn only and the head, or
- Around the neck.
The Heeler must:
- Rope the steer by the rear heels.
Any other catch of the steer is deemed an illegal catch, and the team will be subsequently disqualified.
When the header makes a legal catch, they’ll attempt to turn the steer to its left and expose its hind legs. When this happens, the Heeler rapidly attempts to rope the hind legs together. If only one foot is caught, a five-second penalty is assessed. Upon catching the steer, the time stops. There must be no slack in the rope, and the two horses must face each other for the timer to stop.
For more information on what a crossfire is in team roping, read on!
Team Roping Rules and Etiquette
It’s expected in team roping that teams are respectful of their surroundings when they’re roping or warming up for the event. The steer should not be requested until the arena is totally clear.
Participants are expected to help with wrapping, unwrapping, and directing the cattle during the event.
During warmups, if a header misses two attempts in a row, it’s considered good etiquette for them to hang up their rope on the steer in the chute, to ensure other teams can complete their warmups. Headers must also pull steers out to the far fence to save cattle for the rodeo season.
And finally, no harm or misuse of the animals (horses and steer) is tolerated.
The Crossfire Rule
To put it in simple terms, a crossfire in team roping is when the steer is basically caught in the ‘crossfire’ of the Header and Heeler.
First, the Header must have control of the steer to make it face their horse. The steer must have made at least one full hop out of the bend before the Heeler can send its rope loop to make contact with the steer. Essentially, the Heeler cannot toss their rope before the Header has altered the direction of the steer with their rope. If this is not done, it is considered “cross-firing” and no time is recorded for the team.
Learn Team Roping with X Factor Team Roping
In summary, when it comes to defining what is a crossfire in team roping, it all comes down to timing, and it can be a fine line between breaking this rule and making the perfect catch! What can’t be disputed though is how spectacular of an event team roping is to watch up close. If you love the sport and are aiming to become a proficient header or heeler, then X Factor Team Roping can help. Our instructors have years of experience under their belts (and championships too). Watch tutorials, get expert advice, and learn from the greats by joining today!
Just getting started? Check out our 10 Tips For Beginner Ropers!