Design Review: Dummy Roping Calf

A few weeks ago, I was at a bison auction and met some very interesting people. One of the people I met got me in to roping on a dummy calf with a Lariat. It was a fun leisure activity to pass some down-time, and I thought it was such an interesting skill to have. That experience inspired me to create my own dummy calf.

After looking online, I was astounded by the price you have to pay to get a dummy calf. The cheapest models were a few hundred dollars, and I even found one listed at $4,800. I looked at a few of the simpler models, and realized I could very realistically build one myself. I decided the best way to make it would be out of PVC pipe. PVC pipe is fairly cheap and easy to work with, and I plan to use it as a “blank slate” so that I can create the structure and then add the aesthetic.


This is an example of what I plan to make mine look like. The basic structure will be very similar, and then I will branch off aesthetically.  I was surprised when I found out even this model was priced at $200. I know I can make one for much cheaper.

My goal aesthetic is going to be paint splatter. I plan on painting the whole thing in a CU gold color, and then getting black paint and splattering it on top. I think this will give it a fun look, allowing it to look finished but still imperfect. I think this is the right mood for a project like this. Typically, this is something that would be kept in a barn or just outside, so I wouldn’t want to give this a super classy look. Paint splatter will be really fun and colorful while still being a little rough around the edges.

Source: Julianatakespictures.tumblr

This is similar to the aesthetic I plan on implementing in to my project. Obviously I plan on using different colors, but this unfinished look of paint just thrown on is what I want.



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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Branden Goldenberg
    March 20, 2017 12:32 pm

    I never would have guessed that you were interested in roping bulls! I hope the pvc piping will be rigid enough to withstand the roping over time. Giving the bull some character and volume will be a nice addition.

  • Connor Swanson
    March 20, 2017 11:05 am

    This was a super creative idea. The black and gold paint splatter fits well with the overall idea too as you are a Ralphie Runner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a moving dropping dummy before but I’m sure it will be a lot of fun to mess around with once you are done

  • The CU paint splatter aesthetic is perfect for this. I hope at the end of the year you demonstrate to the class how to rope a calf with your finished project.

  • As a former 4-H member, love this idea! Great aesthetic- very Jackson Pollock with a CU western twist. A gold or black lasso may look really cool with the paint. Good job!

  • Oksana Schuppan
    March 17, 2017 12:37 pm

    It’s great how the things we are involved in can inspire us. Love that you are a Ralphie runner creating a project like this. I think it’s great that this is something you can use too. I think the black and gold splatter paint will look fantastic too. Good job!

  • Benjamin Fried
    March 17, 2017 12:24 pm

    Great presentation, funny back story behind how you decided to choose this. It seems like all your projects are related to cowboy or farming things, which is a cool aesthetic in its own.

    You should look at ropes that match the dummy calf. That way, you have a full kit that matches. Also, you should work your beer cowboy hat into the mix.

    When you are done with it, it could make a great display somewhere in your house. What are you planning on doing with it when you are done?

  • Cool project. I have seen roping dummies before, but made out of wood rather than PVC. I liked your idea about possibly using wheels to make the dummy around to make it dynamic. A possible addition is to a basic motor to the head to get it to rotate back and forth to make the target harder to rope.


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