One of the few team roping events in the region was scheduled for Saturday night at the Montezuma County Fair.
But it was canceled because of relentless rain.
The rain is needed, said Terrance Claw, of sponsor Tomahawk Cattle and Roping Co., but it was too much for the event to be held safely.
“For the ropers, their horses are like family, and there is too much risk of injury when it gets this wet,” Claw said.
Competitors and about 30 spectators waited out a drenching rainstorm, then it cleared briefly before the downpour returned.
John’s Cattle provided the roping steers.
Secretary and timekeeper Ashley John said most roping and rodeo events have been canceled. During non-pandemic times, her team attends 20 to 30 events per year.
“Normally by this time of year, we have done 13 events, but this year because of COVID cancellations, we have done just two,” she said.
Restless roping teams are eager to compete, John said. Roping steers have been idle as well, and the paced around their pen, appearing ready for the chase.
“Teams are coming in from all over because it’s the only event around. These steers are fresh and ready to run. It should make for a good contest,” John said.
Anders Perry Jr., of Crownpoint, New Mexico, has been team roping since 2013. He loves the thrill of the chase and working with his horse, which he got on a “straight trade” for a new saddle.
“He’s fast, and is still learning,” Perry Jr. said. “There is a lot of fun in it, and it takes lots of practice.”
He and his wife, Artesia Sells, compete year-round. They travel the country with their 8-year old daughter, who participates in junior rodeos.
In team roping, the steer is released out of the pen to get a head start. The “header” chases it down and ropes it on the horns, then the “heeler” jumps off their horse and ties up the steer’s back feet. It is a timed event. Teams compete in multiple rounds throughout the event.
Mika Tozer, of Cortez, has been roping since high school.
She loves the sport, especially because it’s an activity she does with her teammate, husband Hardy Tozer, a veteran roper.
The skill set is a complex combination of horsemanship, athleticism, accurate roping and quickness, she said.
“There’s a lot going all at once, a lot of practice and muscle memory,” said Mika Tozer, whose job is to lasso the steer. “A well-trained horse is a big part of it.”
Competitors are rated on a scale of four to a maximum of 15. Mika Tozer is at Level 9, and Hardy Tozer is at 13. Heats are arranged so the competitors are at a similar skill level.
Who decides what level you are is a bit mysterious, Mika Tozer said. Basically, anonymous judges attend roping events and keep track of competitors’ skill set. If they see you are improving, they bump you up a level. If you are ranked too high, your level will drop. The higher the competition level, the bigger the prize money.
Winners of each level are the team with fastest accumulated time over all four rounds, John said. There was a $1,000 bonus for the team with the highest points in each event.
On Thursday, there will be a goat roping event at the indoor arena, also sponsored by Tomahawk.
“Goat roping is big right now, come check it out,” Claw said.
Goat roping does not involve horses. Rather teams chase down the goats on foot, lassoing them and tying them up against the clock.