Pulling the roping sled with the four-wheeler so your husband can practice is an experience on the same level as working cows with your spouse.
Instead of hollering “by!” and “in!” while his wife scrambles to figure out which identical black baldy heifer charging down the alley at the exact same speed gets which gate, the roper’s wife has to figure out when she’s supposed to stop, speed up or turn left by deciphering the look in her husband’s eyes while he’s wearing sunglasses.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts of pulling the sled for your team-roping spouse.
DO insist he deliver clear instructions before each run
Your husband will expect you to read his mind. He knows what pattern he wants and will see no reason to explain it to you. Telling you information he already has in his brain will waste valuable time, possibly up to 30 seconds or less, that could otherwise be used for team-roping drills. But unless you (unlike me) are able to correctly figure out the plan by randomly guessing, you should ask him for verbal instructions. Make sure to remind him to speak clearly and use complete sentences. Airy hand gestures and pointing with his chin doesn’t count.
DO stick to the plan
When I’m roping, my husband outlines what to work on before he starts the four-wheeler. After two or three passes around the arena with the same pattern, he sometimes mixes it up with a directional or speed change without prior warning. My beginner team-roper brain instantly kicks my horse in the wrong place at the wrong time, my left hand whacks my coils on my chin, and my right arm either feeds nothing or three coils at once. I then calmly scream, “What the heck are you doing?! I thought the whole point of roping the sled was to make a steady, controlled run each time, not outrun my horse to the back fence!”
Maybe the plan is to have no plan — more of a “he was loose when I caught him” kind of scenario. In that case, I’ll just go back to practicing on yearling cattle in a wide-open pasture.
DON’T get mad when you can’t hear each other
If you’re on a four-wheeler with the engine running at one end of the arena, and he’s on a horse at the other, don’t yell feedback back and forth to each other. Just turn off the engine or drive closer, even if this irritates one or both of you (usually him). I’m still not sure why the driver yelling, “What?,” makes a team roper slump his shoulders and stare at the ground in defeat. Is he disappointed I don’t have the hearing of a bat? Does turning the four-wheeler off trigger feelings of anger, possibly because it means roping time is over and now he has to tack shoes on the old cavvy horse that’s bad to shoe on the hind end?
Actually, that’s probably it. And it makes sense.
DON’T give each other the “look”
No matter how vague his instructions are or how much dust you’re eating, don’t give him the “look” — you know, the one the neighbors can hear from two miles away. He has probably already given you the look, but its effect was tempered by the sunglasses. The only thing to do (besides learn to communicate more effectively) is to get yourself your own pair of sunnies. This way, you can yell at each other all day using only eye contact.
DO you pull the sled for your spouse?
If so, drop your favorite story in the comments! Chances are good that the rest of us can relate to your mishaps.