This trainer and clinician has helped make it cool to rope like a girl.
Before Lari Dee Guy began her career, most cowboys didn’t figure a woman could train high-caliber rope horses good enough to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. She has trained several, including Tombstone, ridden by team roper Jake Cooper, and Wishbone, ridden by Trevor Brazile, the 13-time all-around champion in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. She was also instrumental in helping Brazile transition the famous horse Texaco from the cutting pen to the calf-roping arena.
As a youth, Guy won 11 consecutive American Junior Rodeo Association roping titles. She has won many more prestigious roping titles as an adult, including Women’s Professional Rodeo Association championships in breakaway roping, heading and heeling.
In addition to training all sorts of roping horses on her family’s ranch in Abilene, Texas, Guy conducts clinics throughout the United States and Canada.
Her slogan—“rope like a girl”—has grown in popularity as more and more women are competing in team roping, and WPRA events have grown during the past 10 years.
A COUPLE of young ladies that are friends of mine came up with it. They said, “Can you make ‘rope like a girl’ a cool thing?” I said, “I’ll do my best.” We want it to be like a movement—something that helps women and kids and gives back to our industry.
IN OUR CLINICS, we start from ground zero a lot of times. Some people don’t even know how to ride a horse, or some know how to ride but haven’t ever swung a rope. And then we have people who rope and ride, and they are looking to get better and get a little more edge.
I TEACH WOMEN differently than men, in a sense that I make women be more basic and more correct. Women have to figure out how to create power in order to rope. The guys already have the upper-body strength. Girls have lower-body strength, but we have to create upper-body strength.
THE LOVE FOR the horses and the love for the sport keep me going. I grew up on a ranch, and we’ve always had horses and cattle. I love developing a horse from one stage to another, and then watching it go on to be even more successful than you could have imagined. It’s satisfying to see the top guys riding them and qualifying for the NFR, or even just giving a kid joy by training a horse for him.
IT WAS HARD to think that I could train rope horses and do what men have always done. When I went to college, at first I actually had this big idea of being a lawyer. Then I got into exercise and sports science. Then the next thing I know, I’m back at the ranch training horses.
GOOD HORSEMEN don’t set their horse up for failure. They set him up to succeed.
BACK WHEN we were kids, we were a rodeoing family. We traveled together, camped together. And some of my best friends I have known since those days. You were trying to beat them in the arena, and then outside the arena you were always hanging out.
MY DAD WOULD always stay on me, challenging me to out-rope my brother. He would set us up to compete against each other.
WHAT MADE ME who I am was always competing against my brother. He was three years older than me and went on to be an NFR calf roper. I was always thinking that whatever my brother could do, I could do it better. It didn’t matter if we were loading hay, roping or playing basketball. I think that helped us both grow in our careers.
I’M NOT GOING to tell one of those little kids or their parents that a horse will work for them if I think it wouldn’t. The same goes for [professional ropers] Trevor Brazile or Jake Cooper or Charlie Crawford. I’ve just got to have honesty.
I WISH PEOPLE would put as much priority on their horsemanship as they put into how they handle their ropes.
WHEN I GOT into the WPRA, there were a lot of people I looked up to, like Wanda Bush and Betty Gayle Cooper-Ratliff, who were champions. The WPRA gives little girls someone to look up to and something to strive to be.
TO BE CLASSIFIED as a cowgirl makes you feel good. There are rodeo athletes that are awesome in the arena, but could they be that successful working on the ranch? To be a cowgirl means that I can compete in the arena, but I can also go home and do what needs to be done on the ranch.
This article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of Western Horseman.