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Partnership, precise timing, and anticipation—this is what team roping is about. Between header and heeler, this is the only true team event in rodeo.
Both begin in their respective “boxes”—a three-sided fenced area with an opening facing the arena—on either side of the chute containing the steer. A breakaway barrier is looped around the steer’s neck and is released as soon as the steer reaches its advantage point, which is determined by the length of the arena. Once the steer has received its head start, the barrier is open for the header to race through. The header takes off in pursuit of the steer, roping it around the horns, neck, or a horn-neck combination, then turns the steer quickly to the left so the heeler has a shot at both of its hind legs.
The clock starts when the riders leave their respective boxes and stops when their horses are facing each other and their ropes are taut on the steer. If the header fails to give the steer its allotted head start, the team receives a 10-second penalty in addition to their final time. If the heeler catches only one leg, a five-second penalty is added.
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