The NMApHC Rope Clinic

By Patty Wilber

Last weekend (2-17-24) The NMApHC put on a clinic to help folks improve their rope-handling skills for ranch horse classes.

The rope magician clinicians were Ryan Erikson and Shawn Carrell. Kathryn Erikson ran the “How to Manage Your Space when Dragging a Log” station, and I was support crew for the younger crowd.

Ryan on a warmer day. Photo by Lauren Aston in case you miss the watermark.

Shawn on the right, the header. Also, a on much warmer day! Photo from Shawn’s FB page.

Ryan on clinic day. It was NOT warm.

The clinic was at the Stanley Cyclone indoor arena, and thank goodness because the day started out cold and foggy with a biting breeze, and did not improve much.  Being inside, we were out of the wind, but it was not warm.  My face turned kind of blue and I ate a midmorning snack of a breakfast burrito provided by the Bickfords, hoping, that like in horses, eating would increase my metabolism and warm me up!  I also ate it in the bathroom, which was heated. The burrito tasted good, at any rate.

But back to the ropes. The first session was ground work.  Participants first learned to coil their ropes, then build a loop, and finally how to twirl the loop.  I spent as much time participating as I did helping in this session.  I learned some new loop-building tricks and fixed a problem I was having with twirling (I was not rotating my hand properly).

The girls in my group all caught on quickly and were soon coiling, building, twirling and even catching each other.  Also, despite the cold, I did not hear any complaining.

Addison, Mikayla, and Hadleigh. Photo by Monica!

Mikayla. Photo by Monica!

Hadleigh. Photo by Monica.

Addison. Photo by Monica.

Monica, clinic participant, and grandma to the girls. Mikayla in the background.

The second session was divided into three stations: Rope handling and throwing at a dummy from horseback with Shawn.  Approaching and safely handling a rope for a drag with Ryan.  Dragging the the log without hitting obstacles in the arena, with Kathryn.  I hung with the girls and spent a fair amount of time helping Addison with her horse Eli, who was petrified of ropes.

In Shawn’s session, the riders learned how to hang the rope on the saddle with a rubber rope holder.  Hondo and tail down, loop to the outside.  They learned to approach the dummy in “lane 2” and they learned how close to get.  Then they built a loop while still holding the reins, twirled and tossed.  Hadleigh is just ten and not super tall, so she had to work to twirl high enough above her horse’s head.  He did get whacked once.  I was so fascinated watching and helping Addison with Eli and his fear of ropes that I forgot to take pictures.

Ryan helped them correctly approach a drag and pick up the rope.  He also helped them learn to allow the rope to run through their hand so that if their horse were to spook at the drag, they could let out slack without getting tangled.

How to allow the rope to feed out. Ryan and Mikayla demonstrating.

Hadleigh practicing picking up the rope from the standard.

In Kathryn’s session, the drag was a fairly long log which requires preplanning to get it to drag without hitting the standard or any obstacles one has to drag around. Mikayla’s horse did not want to steer and she really worked at it until she had her horse dragging to perfection. (And, again, no photos…)

Gino also came to the clinic.  I brought him inside to be tied since it was horrible outside and also so that he wouldn’t be out there all alone. He stood tied to the fence near some other horses like a champ without pawing or carrying on.

Gino! Calm and cool and darn cute.

Christy rode him in the sections with the other adults and had him trotting while dragging the log like an old pro.  No photos since I was with the girls, so that’s my excuse on that. I was pretty happy with what I saw, though!

It was a really good clinic!  Thank you Kathryn and Ryan for organizing! Thank you Shawn, Ryan, Kathryn, for running sessions! (And me for my ground crew duties and everyone for not freezing to death.)

Happy Friday!



About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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