Baxter Black: Team tyin |

Baxter Black: Team tyin

I happened to be at the National Finals Rodeo in 1988 when Leo Camarillo and partner roped their steer in five seconds flat! It ranked in my mind with John Alden pitoning up Plymouth Rock or Neil Armstrong making angels in the moon dust! I was there when history was being made! It didn’t matter that Leo’s time only took third in the go-round.

I have watched team roping evolve. Thirty years ago it was called team tying.

In team tying both the header and the heeler were tied hard and fast. The header roped the horns and rode off to the west. The heeler would rope the hind legs, fall back to his left and head south. They’d form a “V” with the steer at the northern most point. The steer would flop to the ground then the header would leap off, brandishing a piggin’ string and tie the steer’s heels with a square knot…Time!

Ron said Vern had come from Squaw Gap to the ropin’ north of Medora, North Dakota. He entered up in the team tying. When his turn came he and his partner bailed outta the box and built to the steer. Halfway across the arena Vern cast his loop. Now it should be noted for followers of modern rodeo, neither Vern nor his horse, Whittier, were professional cowboys, they just did it for a living! Both right off the ranch, where they’d be back on duty the next morning.

His rope sailed out and settled round the steer’s horns. Vern turned the corner and the slack snapped outta the line like a barkin’ dog hittin’ the end of the chain!

Then…his good ol’ pony stuck his nose in the dirt and commenced to bawl and pitch! Tipparary had nothin’ on him. He wallowed across the arena and up the grandstand fence, boggin’ and firin’, bellerin’ and buckin’, generally throwin’ a fit and draggin’ that steer behind him! Vern sat tall in the saddle, solid as Teddy Roosevelt crossin’ the Little Missouri! He looked good. ‘Course the rope runnin’ from the saddle horn across his right leg held him tighter’n rubber horn wrap! The crowd cheered as he made the ride of the day!

At the northwest corner of the arena his horse took a hard right. The rope came slack as the steer caught up. Vern saw his chance, made a beautiful flying dismount and lit square on his feet! The horse bucked by on his left. Vern was just rearin’ back to sail his hat in the air when the steer, still connected to the horse by a forty feet rope, thundered by on his right!

His double back flip scored 5 nines and a ten, with a difficulty rating of 2.5. Ben Gay immediately signed him for endorsements.