Team roping was the closest competition coming into the National Finals Rodeo with just a few thousand dollars in prize money separating the top headers and heelers.
In team roping, a header must charge out of the box on horseback and avoid breaking the barrier. He then must chase down a steer and rope it around its protected horns, neck or “half-head,” a partial horn-neck catch.
After making his catch, the header rides to the left, taking the steer in tow. The heeler moves in and ropes both hind legs. Catching only one hind leg is a five-second penalty. If the heeler tosses his loop before the header has changed the direction of the steer and has the animal moving forward, it’s called a “crossfire” and results in disqualification.
The run is completed when the steer is secured and the team ropers’ horses are facing each other on opposite sides of the steer.