How to Train a Roping Horse

Learn how to turn a horse with experience in cow horse, cutting or reining into a horse capable of competing in roping.

The American Quarter Horse Journal
October 14, 2013

AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald shows you how to train a roping horse in the October Journal

AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald shows you how to train a roping horse in the October Journal. (Annie Lambert photo)

There is a knack to training good rope horses, be it for competition or work around the ranch. Paying a lot of roping dues through the years has positioned AQHA Professional Horseman Les Oswald at the top of that game. The Oakdale, California, trainer went to his first roping as a 6-year-old and has never looked back. 

Cow horses and, in some cases, reining horses make great roping prospects, according to Les. Having a broke horse to start with is a helpful asset when adding a fourth dimension, the rope. But don’t think the addition is a slam-dunk. 

“People mistakenly think because cow horses have that foundation that we can make them a rope horse overnight,” Les tells Journal special contributor Annie Lambert. “They think since it is a 4-year-old and you can ride it around the arena, that it’s ready to go rope on. That’s not true.”

Les specializes in training rope horses and has multiple AQHA World Championship Show roping titles on his résumé. He also trains successful four-event and reined cow horses at his Oakdale facility in addition to a large, successful barn full of amateur and non-pro customers. 

In the October American Quarter Horse Journal, Les shows readers the finer points involved in developing a cow horse into a rope horse. When you sit down to read “Adding a Fourth Dimension,” you’ll see that Les focuses on time, schooling in the roping box and teaching a horse to stop, not scotch, when he shows readers how to train a roping horse. 

The theme of Les’s training program lies in keeping prospective and seasoned rope horses calm, relaxed and happy with their job. And for many horses, adding “the rope” to their résumé, may salvage a horse that couldn’t quite make the cut as a straight cutting, reining or cow horse.

If you’re interested in how to train a roping horse, don’t miss “Adding a Fourth Dimension” in the October Journal

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