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Klamath Courier, Tulelake, California
Wednesday, February 9, 2005 Vol. 3, No. 6 Page 1, column 1

Klamath sees big loops

-- Ocean wave and Argentine loops were praised.

-- Eastern Oregon team wins the Big Loop contest.

By Liz Bowen, staff writer, Klamath Courier, Tulelake, California

KLAMATH FALLS – For the first-time spectator, the action isn’t quick. And the points don’t add up when, for a variety of reasons, points get taken away. Speed isn’t the goal, but ropers in the Big Loop contest must get the job done within an allotted time. Fancy loops, which catch, receive applause as praise for a job well done.

And the first-time spectator realizes that these big loop ropers are a different breed.

This is not a rodeo or horse show contest. The Big Loop contest is much different and there are a myriad of rules known mostly to the competitors.

Skill and talent are on display, although lady luck does lend herself during each of the three go-rounds.

For Kelly Reuck of Aden, James Shoshone from Christmas Valley, and Kane Eaton from Paisley, their skill won the day Feb. 4. The team of three cowboys earned silver awards and $410 each as they beat out several dozen other teams.

This Big Loop contest was held during the 45th Annual Klamath Bull and Horse Sale at the Klamath County Fairgrounds. Cowboys from as far away as Wyoming traveled to compete in the intricate roping event.

The teams get three chances to head and heel a bovine. Once a team member has caught the head, he or she is not allowed to catch the head again in the other go-rounds.

Loping is not allowed, so if a horse breaks from a trot into a canter, the team is disqualified from that go-round.

The weaned calf is numbered and each team draws a number. That is the calf that must be caught from the six head in the pen. The pen is about half the size of a regular arena

Fancy loops that catch bring more points. The loops range in size of eight to ten feet, but some ropers will use an even larger loop – it may depend upon the scale of fancy. Sometimes the calf does run through a loop and some of those times that is the expected result.

There is the ocean wave, where the roper is swinging the loop in a circle above his or her head and when the loop is released, the loop continues to swing in the air. At the end of this amazing throw, this loop is expected to make a catch. Then some loops twist in the air backwards and come down to made a heel catch.

After the head and foot or feet are caught, it is the third cowboy’s job to dismount (there are rules on how to do this correctly), grab the tail and flip the feeder-sized calf. It wasn’t easy, as these 800 pounders were big and feisty.

This contest exemplifies how the cowboys catch cows to doctor and brand in the old-fashioned way. It is a practical event with the added fancy skills for throwing loops

So the cowboy, who has flipped the calf, must then remove the rope from the neck and put the loop around the front feet. If only one foot is in the heel loop, both feet must be placed in the loop. All this is done, while the teenaged steer or heifer is scrambling to get up. As with most range cattle, this is not an easy project.

But Reuck, Shoshone and Eaton beat out the other good competition during the three go-rounds and walked away the winners of the this year’s Big Loop contest at the Klamath Bull Sale.





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