Roanoke 2nd-grader tearing up roping circuit

Dalton Husband, of Roanoke, prepares to lasso a target steer during practice in the corral of his family’s farm. The 7-year-old second grade student has already won numerous awards for his roping proficiency.
Dalton Husband, of Roanoke, prepares to lasso a target steer during practice in the corral of his family’s farm. The 7-year-old second grade student has already won numerous awards for his roping proficiency. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 14, 2015.

Dalton Husband already needs a big box to hold all the trophies, statues and belt buckles he has won for his dead-eye skill at roping.

He is tearing up the roping circuit early in his young career. Dalton is 7.

The second-grade student at Roanoke Elementary School began learning how to rope at the tender age of 3. He has since traveled to roping events around the Midwest, tackling targets both stationary and moving. And he keeps on winning.

Dalton’s dad, Scott Husband, says it was his son’s grandparents who first got him interested in the sport.

“They went to Quarter Horse Congress, in (Columbus) Ohio, and they saw dummy roping for kids,” he explains. “So they came home with a dummy and a rope and said, ‘We think Dalton needs to try doing this.’ And that’s how he actually started.”

Dalton credits his friend, Dakota Sunday, with teaching him the fine points of throwing the rope. Sunday, 21, a former Huntington County 4-H member, competes on a professional rodeo circuit.

“He taught me how to swing, basically,” Dalton says.

It wasn’t long before he competed in his first dummy roping event, at age 3.

“His first time at Quarter Horse Congress, he missed by one point of qualifying in the top 10,” says Husband.

His skills soon made him the thrower to beat, after he began winning contest after contest in his age division.

Of course, Dalton says the secret to throwing a rope is easy.

“You just have to twist your wrist,” he explains. “And if you’re a ‘righty,’ you have to go to your left to get it started and if you’re left handed you go right to get it going.”

He also does a maneuver that he calls a “goat tie” – in which a live goat is tied to a pole in the arena. The animal has a 10-foot circle it can run around in.

“You ride on your pony or horse straight down there,” Dalton says. “You have to hop off, run down there and tie it up.”

“You flank the goat like you see a cowboy do with a steer, throw it down, tie up three legs, throw your hands in the air, and it has to last for 18 seconds,” his dad adds.

Each event in the kids’ division leads to a more difficult level, or step up. Dalton is currently working on riding his pony while roping the dummy steer target. His next goal is to move up to roping calves while on the moving pony.

About once a month, the young cowboy puts on his game face and competes in a roping contest on the Midwest Youth Rodeo Association circuit. Most of the events take place in Indianapolis. The entire Husband family goes to the events together as a family function.

Dalton has won numerous awards for goat tying, sheep riding – also known as mutton bustin’ – and other events that involve pitching a rope. He’s won 10 belt buckles, in addition to spurs, trophies, saddle blankets and a halter for his efforts.

“He won the youth circuit in Huntington this year,” Husband says. “He won his division, so he gets a certificate to buy a saddle.”

Dalton wants to go to the world championship – the National Finals Rodeo dummy roping contest – which was set for this past week in Las Vegas, but his dad says that may have to wait a bit.

“Airline tickets are probably going to keep us from going,” Husband says, as Dalton groans.

When he isn’t out in the corral practicing, or off competing, Dalton enjoys soccer, basketball and baseball. He also makes hot pads on a loom. When he grows up, Dalton plans to be a pro roper like his mentor, Sunday, and he also wants to be a horse trailer dealer.

“I just want one, because if I owned the company I could pick which trailer to keep,” he says.

At this point in his career, Dalton has nowhere to go but up. However, with all his skill and trophies, he may have to keep an eye on what could become his biggest competition; his 2-year-old brother, Damon, and 5-year-old brother, Dawson, are already honing their roping skills and nipping at his heels.

“My brother was 3 years old and got ninth place,” Dalton says.