It didn’t take long after catching the roping bug to begin to realize we needed a target better than a table. For one, the table, unlike most animals, was square. Fail.
Second, the table wasn’t quite tall enough or high enough off the ground. So, even though you’ll be throwing a rope from atop a horse, the drop wasn’t quite right to practice accurately. Sometimes practicing wrong can be worse than not practicing at all.
Finally, having a target was great; without a head, hooking horns, or ‘catching the neck’ (another term we recently learned) was impossible.
Enter the online search for roping dummies. The upwards of $100-200 price tag I found was quickly a big nope for me, so what do we do? We look for shortcuts. This time, Pinterest.
We found several plans for dummies in other languages, and some using the metric system or hardware requiring unique tools. Nope. I found metal framed, neon orange, and bales of straw with a head stuck on the end, but one of PVC pipe plan sets caught my eye.
Why? Because we have actually used PVC in a lot of household projects, and it’s very forgiving. Plastic, readily available (if you haven’t noticed, home improvement stores are still slow to get inventory in from COVID-19 shipping delays), lightweight, paintable, and not terribly expensive.
Eric found plans for a model we thought would work, but it was on a sled. The premise behind this is that once you’re atop a horse, someone drives and pulls the dummy behind you. Considering we don’t have a horse or an arena at home, we omitted the sled part.
Next, a trip to the home improvement store. He was in and out of there in half-hour tops, which was also simplified because we have a menagerie of power tools at home, even though many don’t see the light of day. He came home with PVC and varying connecting pieces, like an armful of adult tinker toys.
Because they didn’t sell plastic animal heads at every home improvement store, I had to get those online. Two-day shipping wasn’t too bad. Each of the two heads, steer and calf, ran me between $30-40, which would end up being the lion’s share of the project cost.
next part became a little bit of Jenga, a little bit of Legos, a little bit of cutting and re-cutting, and maybe some part throwing.
The basic frame was a long piece for the spine, about three feet long. Then the joints, think hips and shoulders, started as 45-degree angles, but Amara quickly told us that it wasn’t accurate and wouldn’t catch right, even though I personally thought it looked better. Oh, and the spine was too long, she realized after practicing, so cutting that down was an easy fix.
We made another quick trip to the store; Eric replaced the 45-degree angle pieces with 90-degree angle pieces.
There was some playing around with legs at this point, the height, namely. Of course, we googled and tried to find dimensions of the expensive dummies online, which got us close, but we still modified a lot. As with all pieces of this …….