By Sgt. Matthew Vanderboegh
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
BAGHDAD – As Spc. Bryan Warman, a native of Dodge City, Kansas, winds up for his throw, eyes the plastic steer intensely and casts his hand out. The lasso finds its purchase and the slack is taken at a blinding speed.
This is an exercise he practices over and over until he finally feels satisfied that the old reflexes and muscles have not forgotten the proper technique.
Warman may be deployed to a small joint security station in Iraq, but with his love for competitive team roping he refuses to let his talent become rusty. As this cowboy turned infantryman would say "you have to be committed to it."
Warman is currently serving as a radio operator for the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
Before joining the military he worked as a cowboy for a feed lot operation. Additionally, he has worked in the beef and dairy industry and horse training facilities.
According to Warman, "Everything I learned from working in the ranches and in the military has given me the edge in the event. You have to have the discipline, focus and the horsemanship to be able to pull off a good competition."
He explained the curiosity that has turned into a passion.
"When I was about 10, my family moved to Dodge City, Kansas. There, cattle roping is very popular. I went to a rodeo and from then on I was hooked," Warman said. "I was able to take riding lessons. I have been very lucky to have been around some of the top team ropers.
"If you want to be good at roping you have to learn from people who are better than you are. You have to watch the videos and talk to the old guys who have been around the sport for a long time," continued Warman.
Warman is a header; he basically tips his hat and the steer is let loose.
"I rope the calf (around it's head) and the heeler catches the legs (with his rope). If the heeler misses the legs then that's it," Warman said. "If you handle a steer wrong then the heeler has a difficult time. You have to have a good handle on a steer."
Though simply roping a cow is not sufficient enough to win a rodeo, skill and awareness to hazards also play into the sport.
"The most dangerous would be loosing a finger or thumb due to a bad throw (of the rope). If you do not have a properly tied saddle or you do not have good horsemanship skills then you could be thrown off of the horse and kicked," Warman said. "Then there are also a lot of torn rotator cuffs and other sport related injuries."
It has been many months since Warman has been able to rope a real steer or ride on his beloved horse, Jed. However he still plans on taking in a few competitions while on leave in September.
"My dream is to compete in a national event. Next year I plan on trying out for the Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association," said Warman.