Team-roping skills can bring in the big trucks
A good roper may have a trophy or two sitting on the mantel.
Bob Vestal has one sitting in the garage.
Vestal recently won a new Dodge pickup truck for his first-place win in a mid-March Lazy E team-roping competition in Guthrie, Okla.
This may have been the third time the Tonganoxie man competed in the Lazy E team roping event. But it's the first time he's won.
Vestal paid $700 to enter the competition, which allowed him to participate with 15 partners assigned to him by computer.
This was a large competition, with more than 3,200 teams participating, he said.
Winners are judged by how quickly they can rope two calves. In one of the events, Vestal and his partner, 14-year-old Joe Henry McUbrey, completed their task in a short 15 seconds.
Both Vestal and McUbrey were declared first-place winners.
This meant that they each won a pickup truck, as well as $2,000 cash.
"We don't often get to go somewhere where the stakes are that big," Vestal said.
It was a shoe-in, so to speak, for Vestal, who says he spends much of his workdays upside down. Or in other words, he shoes horses.
Since he was a young teen growing up on the edge of Kansas City, Kan., Vestal has been involved with horses.
His first horse, he recalled, was anything but the kind of horse he's used to now.
"It was a broke-down saddlebred," he said. "I just rode just like everybody else."
But somewhere along the line, horses became his profession as well as his passion.
Today he rides Scatman, an 18-year-old quarter horse Vestal has owned for 16 years and began using for roping after he retired the horse from racing.
The horse's temperament helps, Vestal said.
"He has an attitude and he gives me 100 percent every time with his attitude," said the 53-year-old Vestal.
But that attitude comes with a catch.
"He's mean," Vestal said. "He just tries to bite other people. If you ask somebody about him, they'll say they hate him."
Vestal, who shoes horses from Missouri to Oklahoma to Nebraska, and of course, Kansas, said he's self-taught.
"I taught myself to train racehorses, taught myself to shoe and taught myself to rope," he said.
For 20 years, Vestal trained racehorses quarter horses and thoroughbreds for the Woodlands racetrack in Kansas City, Kan., and in Oklahoma and Iowa.
And during the last seven years, he's been practicing the art of team roping, most recently working out at the Baker Arena near Tonganoxie and at the arena of Chris and Cindy Kerny, Edgerton.
Jodee Baker said Vestal has worked his horses at their arena since they opened it.
He's a good roper, she said. "He's just got a little more skills than some of the other ones."
Lately Vestal's wife, Pat, has been learning to rope.
"It's our goal that we can team rope together," Vestal said. "We haven't done that yet, but that's what we want to do."