How to Spin It




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When Vincenti Orespo, a Mexican cowpuncher, came to this country a few years ago and signed up with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, rope spinning was a thing unheard of.   Ever since the first herd of cattle grazed its way across the western prairies, lariats were an indispensable item in the cowboy's equipment, but it was not until this Mexican put himself on exhibition for Buffalo Bill that it occurred to any one that a rope could be spun.

It was not so long ago that Vincenti came-rope spinning is really a very modern development in the use of the lariat. He was not a finished rope spinner, this Mexican; not by any means. But he was an excellent straight roper, and did a lariat throwing act which put most of our American cattle chasers out of the picture. And in the course of this act, he introduced a simple rope spinning trick or two which he had invented back home, and incidentally, showed to the world for the first time that a lariat could be spun.

Our American cowboys were not slow in picking up this new turn, and soon had stolen the Mexican's thunder, for they developed the stunt of rope spinning far beyond his wildest dreams, evolving in time the present day intricate art with its almost limitless variations, as we see it performed by our roping artists on the stage or in the Wild West shows. The American ropers were the first to jump through a rope.

Lariat throwing is one thing; rope spinning is something else. Lariat throwing is useful in catching horses and cattle on the ranches, and was indispensable in the early days. But rope spinning has no practical value, aside from the fact that it is splendid exercise and a wonderfully fascinating sport.

"I'd sure like to go on a ranch out West and see the cowboys spin a rope," said a boy friend of mine the other day as he was perspiring over a stubborn lariat which refused to spin for him.

When this boy's dream is realized, if it ever is, and he makes his trip to the western ranches, he will doubtless be distinctly disappointed, for search as he will he may not be able to find a single rope-spinning ranch hand (unless he goes to some of the dude ranches employing show cowboys), but he will find plenty of fine straight ropers who can rope and hog-tie a steer in less time than it takes us to tell about it. If he should single out the ranch boss and ask him why this is so-why none of his cow hands can spin a rope, he would soon find out in no unmistakable terms.

Should the ranch boss hire a man who can spin a rope he would have all the cowboys on the place spinning ropes-in fact, little else but rope spinning would happen if the men had their way, and the ranch work would be sorely neglected. So the ranch boss is uninterested when a fancy rope spinner applies for a job, and as soon as a man demonstrates his ability too often along this line he usually moves along to another ranch.

But as sport and recreation, rope spinning is more appealing than straight roping could ever be. There are so many different tricks and endless variations which add color and variety, and present constantly new challenges to one's skill and athletic ability. Then, too, it gives one a work-out.

In learning to spin a rope, a smooth floor is a big asset. Do not attempt it in the drawing room, however, especially if you are particular about the polish and fixtures, and do not practice m clothes which you expect to use for any other purpose. A rope has the habit of picking up all the dirt on the floor. Girls should wear knickers-a skirt will be constantly interfering with the rope.

In rope spinning, the rope is all important. One cannot pick up just any rope and hope to succeed. Most men have tried at some time in their lives to spin a rope but usually without success. The reason, no doubt, lies partly in the fact that the rope was not adapted to that purpose. A Manila throwing rope is useless for spinning.

If you have ever seen a roping artist in a lariat spinning exhibition, you will recall that he picked up a separate rope for almost every series of tricks he attempted. Without the just-right rope for the particular trick we are learning, our efforts are very likely to be futile. One finds this out more and more as he progresses. While learning to spin a rope, the writer has worked for weeks on a certain trick and failed, only to learn through experimentation that the rope was not right for that particular trick. With the proper rope success would have come in a few days.

The best quality of braided cotton sash cord is needed for successful spinning; this can be obtained from most hardware stores. Be sure to secure the 3/8 inch size, commonly designated as No. 12. Made up spinning rope in the proper lengths and weights to meet the demands of the tricks described herein can be obtained from your dealer or a manufacturer of spinning ropes.

For the beginner at rope spinning, 20 feet of rope is about the right length. In the trick pictured in the frontispiece, a 22 foot rope is being used. A small boy may find 17 or 18 feet a better length. Secure 20 feet, and after a trick or two have been learned, if the rope seems too long, cut it down. It is not wise for an amateur to try to use a long rope by holding it short. Cut it off.

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15. Hondas Used in Spinning Ropes.
(a) Wired Honda.
(b) Added Wire for Weight.
(c) Light Aluminum Honda.
(d) Heavy Brass Honda.

Bend one end back and wire it there with copper wire, forming an eye or honda, about 3 inches long, as in Figure A, Picture 15. Pass the other end through the honda and the rope is ready to use. Some ropers prefer a light weight aluminum honda (Figure C), but it is not at all essential.

Body Spin

How to Spin a Rope






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.