As competitive as breakaway roping is, it pays to lock that tip-down angle into your muscle memory—but with a curl so you get a legal catch in no time flat. Enter the dummy.
Heel-O-Matic’s NEX calf roping dummy is endorsed by the likes of Lari Dee Guy and Aspen Miller. It weighs only 29 pounds, has a sturdy base so it stays put, and is made of a cow-hide-like material so your rope doesn’t slide around on it. What sets this dummy apart is the long neck, designed to allow your curl to kick back up correctly, while the angle of the head ensures you’ll keep your tip down. The dummy runs about $500, and you can get the sled for around $550, which is unique for it’s long tongue that sets it farther from the ATV. Plus, the height is adjustable so you can practice on bigger or smaller “calves.” A bonus? This sled can also carry Heel-O-Matic’s Bones 2.0 heading dummy. (heelomatic.com; 888-433-5464)
NHSRA sponsor Smarty already offered the realistic and easy-to-maneuver team roping dummy designed by four-time World Champ Allen Bach, and now it has Smarty Junior, a calf dummy endorsed by Jackie Crawford and Shad Mayfield. It’s made of durable polyethylene that can take plenty of abuse in any weather, and is made in Texas in green, black or pink. For about $395, you can buy the Sidekick, which is just the half or full body of the ground dummy with an easy-grip handle. If you already have a Smarty sled, the Smarty Junior breakaway kit for $495 gives you the dummy and equipment you need to turn a Smarty sled into a Smarty Junior sled. Or starting from scratch, you can get the dummy and new sled for around $1,295 retail. (smartytraining.com; 888-908-9047)
The San Antonio-based dummy firm RopeSmart, a WPRA sponsor, has been around for more than a decade. Its founder analyzed the best ropers to find common denominators in angle and plane of swing, then designed dummies to force you to develop those good fundamentals as you isolate and eliminate your bad habits. RopeSmart’s The Runner calf dummy endorsed by John Douch comes in pink, blue or black and is portable so you can take it on the road or put it on the sled to pull behind your ATV. The versatile Runner comes in just a calf head for $75, or $525 for the full dummy, while the sled runs about $325. The great part is you can add horns and collapsible legs to make it a team roping dummy, and store your rope inside the dummy. (ropesmart.com; 866-814-5917)
Other options on the market include SS Roping’s hayrack-friendly Tuf-Kaf dummy, modeled off the Josh Peek-endorsed flank-and-tie dummy with jointed legs that breaks away from the sled. Their new GTS Ground Training System is anatomically correct to a real running calf, and you can easily slide it off the sled to rope on the ground, too, in five colors, for about $450. You can order the dummy and sled for around $999. (tufkaf.com; 307-217-0392)
Another possibility is Rope-Steer’s calf dummy which, for $999, is mounted permanently on a sled with four wheels, eliminating drag so you can pull it fast from a dead stop. (ropesteer.com; 480-442-ROPE).
And Beastmaster Rodeo offers the Stop N’ Clock life-size breakaway dummy, which sits permanently on steel skis and can be roped stationary or pulled with a horse or ATV. For $999, it has real cowhide around the neck and a head-and-neck shape designed to make you throw your rope deep and keep your elbow up (beastmasterrodeo.com; 855-763-3648). BRJ