If you saw a team roper with his hand behind his back, could you tell if he was a header or a heeler? I have done an extensive study on this very problem with a grant funded by the Pro Rodeo Ex-Wives Collection Agency and the Team Ropers Anonymous Halfway House. Here are the results of my findings:

  • Headers are more likely to have their hair styled rather than cut. Heelers get their hair cut biannually and usually need a shave.
  • A header owns a fairly new truck and trailer with a coordinated paint job. A heeler still buys recaps, and the paint job on his trailer matches the primer on his brother-in-law’s BBQ grill. 
  • A header will often have two horses, his favorite and one in training. A heeler will have one horse, in training and for sale.
  • A header may own his own arena. The heeler usually owes last week’s stock charge.
  • The header carefully positions his horse in the box, checks for steer alertness and nods at precisely the moment everything is perfect.
  • The heeler is jerked awake when the head gate bangs.
  • The tack box of a header contains an extra set of reins, leather punch, fly spray, snaps, saddle blanket, talcum, horn wraps, assorted brushes and combs, a second tiedown, various sizes of leather straps, cotton rolls, leg brace solution, hoof care tools, dikes, two pair each of bell boots and splint boots, a jar of silver polish and a can of assorted brake light bulbs. 
  • A heeler’s tack box will have a warm bottle of Combiotic, some Bute paste, an inner tube, a hatchet, some 14-gauge wire, a nest of baler twine, an 18-piece Taiwanese socket set, a runnin’ iron, beer opener and one skid boot.
  • The header will discuss the lineage of his horse: “He’s out of an Easy Jet mare and full cousin to Chester.”
  • A heeler will discuss the lineage of his tack: “I used to ride broncs with this saddle. It’s an Association Tree, but I bolted on this horn and wrapped it with duct tape. Derrick Begay gimme this halter.”
  • A header will blame his horse, himself, his rope, his wrap, his saddle, his timing, his technique, his dally, his loop, the steer, the wind or overtraining.
  • The heeler blames the header.  PD