An illustration of the “Team Roping Capital of the World” from Arizona resident & rope horse trainer, Tommy Thompson.
Rodeo rigs aren’t accustomed to stopping and staying in one place for very long, but
when the winter months hit, it can be counted on that those same pickup trucks and trailers make
camp in Wickenburg, Arizona.
The “Team Roping Capital of the World” is a hotspot for cowboys and cowgirls from November to April.
Tommy Thompson knows the impact of a suitable location when it comes to training horses of any
discipline. And sometimes, a bold move is essential
Originally from Wyoming, Thompson spent 21 years in California where he immersed himself in the heart of the Reined Cow Horse industry with world-renowned trainers. Moving to Wickenburg allowed Thompson to fulfill a lifelong dream, which began the first time he laid eyes on the head horses performing at the BFI.
Thompson uses a Cowhorse foundation to build a “luxury horse” as he likes to call it. He uses this
term because their versatility and athleticism make them a step up from most head horses. Owners can go to a jackpot one weekend, haul these horses to a branding the next, then turn around and show in the
rancher class at the club cuttings if they want to. He instills body control by training them as if they were
going to be a show horse first, then starting them heeling and later switching to the head side.
“Soon after starting to (train head horses), it became really apparent that I needed to live in Wickenburg,” Thompson said.
Thompson took a leap of faith last year and relocated to Morristown, just 11 miles southeast of Wickenburg.
Tommy described Wickenburg as “ropers paradise” and this description is absolutely right. Not only are there several great arenas, but the producers provide variety of pots and prizes for ropers.
“Every arena has something special about it,” Thompson said. “There are some pots that everybody
is drawn to, or there’s arenas that have really soft, almost trainer cattle that I can take a green baby to. I
can go to Rancho Rio or Dynamite and go for the big money, and for that matter, there’s Downtown Arena
or Simpson’s that are great too.”
At the beginning of the season, Thompson likes to scope out each arena. He watches the cattle and checks everything out, so he knows what set up suits each horse in his barn.
The beauty of the area is the proximity to each roping arena. Because of their closeness, it’s just
as easy to saddle up and trot through the dessert to reach the desired destination, whether that be a
commercial arena or a practice pen.
“I don’t like to trek very far to go rope so Wickenburg is perfect for me,” Thompson said. “From my tack
room, I can trot to two different commercial arenas out here in Morristown and just have my horses
warmed up when I get there.”
How awesome is that? The weather, according to Thompson, is the main factor for Wickenburg’s
popularity, with basically eight months of ideal temperatures and conditions. He spends his days in
the arena and when it cools off at night, he enjoys riding around in his Jeep or having a cocktail with
Wickenburg offers more than just team roping. The Saguaro, Wickenburg’s movie theatre, sits downtown and has been totally renovated; it shows new movies
all week, as well classic films on Tuesdays. The Thompson’s most recently went to watch Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. As if that’s not enough to look forward to, there’s several golf courses in the area, Lake Pleasant has lots to offer, and Phoenix is only approximately 30 miles.
“Phoenix has a lot. We really like to go to Top Golf there. Sometimes as a horse trainer that also likes
the jackpot, I just have to go do something else for a day,” Thompson said with a grin on his face.
In Wickenburg, Thompson’s absolute favorite place to eat is Onery Hog BBQ. For a good time and tasty food, Bar 7 is another top pick and when it’s time for breakfast, Spur’s is the spot. Funny enough,
Thompson said he has ordered the same dish at Spur’s for a year and a half. Others on his list were
Cowboy Cookin,’ Anita’s and Qorri’s Pizza.
Arizona – and specifically the Wickenburg area – is perfect for team ropers, horse trainers, or anyone
who needs an escape from reality. The western energy in the town radiates vibrantly during the winter months. Tommy Thompson’s testimony is one of hundreds coming from cowboys, all showing their
appreciation for Arizona in the winter. Thompson praised Wickenburg and ended by saying, “Really
there’s something for everybody.”
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