The Thomas and Mack Arena will again host this electrifying showdown for 2023 National Finals Rodeo, with ten rounds of action-packed, heart-pounding competition to captivate audiences.

Among several rodeo events, team roping is the only true team event. It requires close cooperation and timing between two highly skilled ropers, a header, and a heeler, and their horses.

Headers are responsible for making the initial catch; they rope the steer’s horns with precision and speed. Meanwhile, Heelers follow up by roping the steer’s hind legs and ensuring a clean and efficient takedown.

This rodeo event originated on ranches when cowboys needed to treat or brand large steers, and the task proved too much for one man. In this event, partners must perfect their timing with their horses and as a team.

Like the steer wrestlers and tie-down ropers, team ropers start from the boxes on each side of the chute from which the steer enters the arena and gets a head start according to the length of the arena. One end of the barrier is attached to the steer and stretched across the open end of the header’s box. The barrier is released when the steer reaches his advantage point. The header takes off in pursuit while the heeler trails slightly further behind.

If the header breaks the barrier before the steer completes his head start, the ropers are assessed a 10-second penalty. Some rodeos use heeler barriers, too. The header ropes first and must make one of three legal catches on the steer: around both horns, one horn, the head, or the neck. Any other catch by the header is considered illegal, and the team gets disqualified.

After the header makes his catch, he turns the steer to the left and exposes the steer’s hind legs to the heeler, who then attempts to rope both hind legs. If he catches one foot, the team is assessed a 5-second penalty. After they catch the steer, the clock stops when there is no slack in their ropes, and their horses face each other.

The type of horses the ropers use is an essential aspect of the event. The most popular among all timed-event competitions, particularly team ropers, is the American quarter horse. Heading horses are taller and heavier as they need the power to run the steer after it is roped. While, Heeling horses are quick and agile, enabling them to follow the steer in a better way and react to its moves.

Overall, it’s one of the most exciting events to watch at the NFR and highlights the importance of teamwork through synchronization and precision between them, as they must work in harmony to succeed.

In this rodeo event, the header and heeler do not have to split the winnings as they get paid individually. For example, they receive $30,706 for first place in a go-round, and each win gets them that amount. That said, there is a lot of pressure on headers and heelers to rope quickly and correctly to get the money.

Participants Information

The 2023 Wrangler NFR has brought some exciting changes in this category. Some of the top ropers’ original partners didn’t qualify for the NFR, which has led to the changes amongst them. These changes make the 2023 NFR Finals rodeo event more unpredictable and bring excitement into a fiercely competitive event.

Team Roping (Headers)

  1. Kaleb Driggers (17) – $162,928.34
  2. Coleman Proctor (22) – $159,730.49
  3. Nelson Wyatt (27) – $156,305.22
  4. Tyler Wade – $154,926
  5. Dustin Egusquiza (42) – $144,320.05
  6. Derrick Begay (53) – $138,115.41
  7. Rhen Richard (73) – $125,169.84
  8. Erich Rogers (74) – $124,691.02
  9. Tanner Tomlinson (86) – $118,705.98
  10. Andrew Ward (93) – $115,075.41
  11. Marcus Theriot (95) – $114,755.31
  12. Jake Clay (100) – $108,758.26
  13. Clay Smith (107) – $103,154.31
  14. Clint Summers (112) – $100,522.33
  15. Luke Brown (113) – $98,811.73

Team Roping (Heelers)

  1. Wesley Thorp – $172,153
  2. Junior Nogueira (18) – $162,928.34
  3. Colter Todd (32) – $153,282.61
  4. Levi Lord (41) – $144,602.05
  5. Logan Medlin (61) – $133,487.42
  6. Paul Eaves (76) – $124,241.30
  7. Paden Bray (77) – $124,088.58
  8. Jeremy Buhler (78) – $123,483.95
  9. Patrick Smith (85) – $118,705.98
  10. Jake Long (88) – $116,994.79
  11. Buddy Hawkins (92) – $115,075.41
  12. Cole Curry (110) – $102,163.55
  13. Hunter Koch (114) – $98,811.73
  14. Jonathan Torres (115) – $97,727.43
  15. Tyler Worley – $93,983
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