‘Ropin’ on the River’ Big Loop Roping
The Project H3LP! And the DX Ranch are hosting Dave and Nub Long’s 5th Roping On The River Big Loop ranch roping November 2, 2019, at the DX Ranch between Ridgeview, S.D. and the Missouri River.
A wide variety of loops can be used in the roping, with points added for the more difficult loops. The three person teams will be judged on three head of cattle with a five minute per head time limit, two minutes to head and three to heel. Clearly, with a time limit, this is not a speed event, and how the cattle and horses are handled all plays a part in the judging. Teams are judged on types of loops thrown, their horsemanship, and stockmanship. The fancy loops get more points, but all loops are acceptable. Every team member is required to rope the head once, except in the novice division. There is no age limit so kids can also participate. The rules emphasize quiet cattle handling and horsemanship.
Event co-founder, Dave Long, Pierre, S.D., says “My Dad and I went to our first roping of this type in the early 2000s during the Black Hills Stock Show. They grew from there and there were quite a few around the region for several years. We went to a lot of them and the things we learned and the friendships that we made made us want to spread this as much as possible.” He added, “It produces better horses, better stockmanship, and in an area with a really different style and mindset of doing things, it made us want to start putting on our own ropings to get more people involved.”
With the rules including penalties for infractions, including disqualification of the team, the handling of the horses and cattle is foremost in the minds of the participants. Long says “The roping were supposed to be a way for people to get better at reading cattle. I leave a lot of room for judge’s discretion for extra points for better reading of the stock and the situation. There’s so much more than just the loops, so if someone makes a really good move on a critter that’s trying to get by them, I like to give them points for it.”
“When we started these ropings, we never realized the impact that they had on people. The style of horsemanship at the ropings was a whole new deal for many people,” says Long. “It got them started doing things different than they had before.”
“We’d like to have more of these ropings. Getting the stock for them can be a challenge if we aren’t running anything of our own that will work. It’s so easy on cattle that it’s a good deal for replacement heifer calves and bull calves,” says Long. “It makes them handle so nice when they’re grown so that if you have to rope something to doctor it in the pasture they just don’t get stirred up by it and handle easy. We’ve roped the heifer calves on this place every year and the difference in how they handle as cows is pretty amazing.”
At many ropings, the cattle not being roped at the moment will often lay down and chew their cuds. It’s a non-stressful experience for them as no one gets their horse out of a trot at most and no cattle are allowed to get choked down. It’s also not stressful for the horses being used as it is slow and easy with lots of time to just stand around and relax between rounds. Even relatively green colts can be used in the ranch ropings as it is a slow, quiet way of handling cattle with no pressure on the horse.
The DX Ranch, owned by the Duchenaux family, is the home of Project H3LP! that features the horse program started by Wayne Leo Ducheneaux I, as the foundation of the Lifemanship Program, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Wayne and Regina Ducheneaux, aka Poppy and Granny, made sure their family looked at the world with a sense of community and public service to empower and inspire people to H3LP others. Over the years, the crew has expanded to include the second generation of family as well as an extensive network of friends that help fulfill the mission of creating stable foundations.
The Project H3LP! Lifemanship initiative is a simple, holistic process designed to help foster responsible development in all four aspect of life: physical, mental, emotion and spiritual. They have developed a five step course in helping learn and improve on those skills.
The ranch roping will be taking entries at 10 a.m., CST, with the roping to start at 11 a.m. It’s cash only with $30 entry fee per event, plus a $15 one time stock fee. There will be Novice, Draw and Open divisions with cash and prizes. There will also be an online silent auction with proceeds going toward the H3LP! Program. Spectators are welcome and there will be a lunch stand. You can end the evening with a concert by Nashville artist Stephen Turner, with a free will donation requested.
To get to the ranch, take Hwy 212 between Ridgeview and Gettysburg, turn south between mile markers 199 and 200. Take BIA Rd 8 for eight miles, watch for the indoor arena on the west side of the road. If you want to go the night before, there are accomodations for staying over, but you’ll need to line that up with Melissa at 641-860-0549.
For questions about the ranch roping itself, call Dave Long at 605-200-0606 (CST).
So, if you’ve never seen a ranch roping and want to possibly learn a different way of doing thing, the Roping On The River Big Loop roping will be a good place to go for enlightenment. Load up your horse and ropes and open mind and join the crew at the DX Ranch!
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News