Introducing the Rope to a Rope Horse Prospect

Introducing the Rope to a Rope Horse Prospect

Professional roper Jackie Crawford’s demonstrates her drills for desensitizing a new rope horse.

Jackie Crawford swings her rope as a bay horse tracks a calf (Credit: Lone Wolf Photography)

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

Article by Stephenie Tanguay

When Women's Professional Rodeo Association all-around champion Jackie Crawford begins training a new rope horse, she first introduces a rope to that horse from the ground.

“If you do all the groundwork that should be done, then you eliminate all the problems on the horse's back,” she says.   

Horses become desensitized by touching their legs lightly with the rope. Moving the rope around their feet teaches them that the rope is merely touching them and not intended to hurt them. After spending time swinging the rope around the horse, Jackie attaches it to the saddle horn and twirls it like a jump rope. 

Jackie Crawford ties a rope to a horse's saddle horn and twirls it like a jump rope

Jackie first introduces a rope to a horse from the ground. The desensitizing process includes attaching the rope to the saddle horn, then twirling it like a jump rope. 

 

Once a horse is comfortable with the rope moving around, Jackie ropes the dummy, as the horse is standing nearby, either tied or handheld, depending on the horse’s nature, so he can get used to the sound and motion of the rope.

“Each horse is different and some horses look at the rope as a new thing every day while others are fine with it after just one day,” Jackie says. 

Climbing on, Jackie spends time swinging the rope while she rides. At this point, there is not a calf or steer in the arena, just Jackie and the horse sharing a pleasant afternoon or morning ride while she swings the rope. 

Jackie Crawford swings a rope aboard a new rope horse

Jackie spends time swinging the rope while she rides. At this point, there is not a calf or steer in the arena, just Jackie and the horse sharing a pleasant afternoon or morning ride while she swings the rope. 

 

Time is also spent in the box, just standing there while Jackie swings the rope.

“Training a horse is about reading a horse’s mindset and figuring out how to get through to those mindsets,” Jackie says. “It is knowing when he understands and is ready to move on to the next step.”

About the Source

Jackie Crawford and husband Charly make their home in Stephenville, Texas, with daughter Kaydence and son Creed. Jackie is a three-time all-around champion in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. Charly is a nine-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, partnering with Joseph Harrison in 2017.