Headers, heelers and horses have to be well coordinated.

Equally important in team roping are the talents of the header and the heeler. Most team ropers specialize, although some work alternately as a header or a heeler.

The steer is given a head start based on the size of the arena. The header waits behind a barrier, which is released after the steer has taken the proper head start. If the header breaks the barrier, the team is given a ten-second penalty. The heeler follows after the header has started his pursuit.

The header is the first to rope. He must catch the steer around the horns, around one horn and head or around the neck. His roping job completed, the header dallies the rope around his saddle horn and rides to the left, turning the steer away from the heeler.

As the header rides away, the heeler ropes the steer’s hind feet. Catching only one foot results in a five-second penalty.

The clock is stopped when no slack is in the rope or the ropers are facing each other.

Horses are trained separately for their specialties, heading or heeling. Heading horses usually are taller and heavier then heeling horses because they must turn the steer after the header has made his catch. Heeling horses are quick and agile because they must be able to keep up with the steer’s every move. The horse of choice for either specialty is the American Quarter Horse.

Team roping originated on ranches when a large steer had to be caught and treated or branded. It is still a common practice.