Living legend in the world of Team Roping.

He has qualified for the NFR over 15 times and has accumulated over one million dollars in Lifetime Earnings. Walt currently holds two world titles and is considered to be one of the best ropers in the industry.

The Roper's Journey

A dictionary may define the word “journey” as an act of traveling from one place to another, but when applying the word to the career of team roping legend Walt Woodard, there really isn’t anywhere in the wide, roping world that he hasn’t already been. The two-time World Champion has won most major roping competitions, some multiple times, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have his eye on another prize. When asked if there is anything left that he dreams of winning, Walt says, “No, but I want to go back to the NFR. That’s the goal. I want to see if a guy 65 years old can make the NFR. Nobody’s ever done that in team roping. That’s my goal this year.”

So how did his journey begin? Walt’s father was a horseman, a hard but fair World War II generation tough guy that Walt simply adored. According to Walt, “When I was about 8 years old, my father got interested in team roping. I loved my dad. I liked being around him. I liked the way he treated me, he was a tremendous horseman. I really loved horses. As a kid, I loved elephants and horses. So, thank God that my father wasn’t a circus guy, I would have ended up on an elephant. I liked big powerful animals; Dad was a horse guy and started roping, so I got involved in it.” Considering that Walt has a brother who broke a buffalo to the saddle, you could almost see Walt twirling his rope over an elephant’s head, couldn’t you?

But seriously, let’s get back to the road that Walt is taking now. Last year, Walt teamed up with Metalab to create the Walt Woodard Roper’s Bit Collection. His goal here was to bring the expertise of his years, over 40 of them now, of competing and teaching roping clinics to riders everywhere.

"For so much of my life, I have done roping schools. I have taught people how to rope and ride. Everybody wants to have a better relationship with their horse. Ropers don’t want to just chase the steers. They want to work together with their horse as a team. But so many of them are using the wrong bit. In my clinics, I try to teach riders the importance and benefit of using the proper bit. Metalab has allowed me to bring this instruction to everyone. With Metalab, I designed a series of step-by-step bits that are tailored to fit each horse’s age and temperament at each level of his training. It is a simple, logical system designed to help educate ropers on proper bit selection at each stage, as the horse progresses. A young horse doesn’t need the same bit like an older, more finished horse. If you give the horse what he needs, he’ll give you what you need. Used together, the collection will efficiently move a horse through training from beginner to polished competitor.”

Moving from a beginner to a winning competitor — is the journey that many young ropers are hoping to make. The road to that success has changed a lot from the days when Walt started competing, but, as he says, he was in the right place at the right time. “I grew up in California and I happened to grow up not very far from where Leo Camarillo lived. Leo Camarillo was the greatest roper that has ever been in our industry. He is the guy that modernized the sport. He was way ahead of his time. But if I had been born in Alaska, I would have never gotten to see him. Nowadays, a kid can live in Alaska and all he has to do is turn his computer on and he can get free tips.”

Getting the right information is the key to making good decisions. Walt advises anyone interested in competing as a roper to be a student of the game. “Be a learner,” he says. “Be interested in the game. Study the sport. Study history. Take in all the information that you possibly can. Get around someone who is a high-level roper. Clean their pens or their stalls, run up their steers. Be humble. Don’t have a big ego. Do anything that you have to do to get the information that you need for success.”

Getting riders the information they need is important to Walt, and to Metalab. With the Roper’s Bit Collection, they have created the road map that any roper can use to find his way to the winner’s circle.

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