Roping Moving Targets




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By Bernard S. Mason

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9. Waiting for Him

With the development of skill in handling the rope, posts and stationary targets soon become uninteresting and we want the challenge of a moving object. Dogs, calves, pigs, chickens, in fact everything in the neighborhood that could run, were pressed into service by the writer. It is in working on these dodging targets that we really develop skill in manipulating a rope and find the greatest joy in lariat throwing. The fascination is greatly increased, however, if we have learned the art of roping by the feet.


The trick and fancy roping of the rodeos calls for the stunt of roping horses by the feet.

Have you ever watched the circus cowboys do it? If you have, you sort of wished you were a cowboy with a flock of horses, and could do the thing yourself. You can, and you do not even need a horse to practice on; you can rope the feet of a running boy and get just as much of a thrill out of it as if he were a broncho.

Tell the boy who is going to run for you to come fast and pick his feet up high. Let us hope that he is good natured and does not mind being tripped up now and then, for he can help you a great deal if he is so disposed. He will probably be "rope shy" at first-that is, just as you throw for his feet he will unconsciously and unintentionally slow up or shy away from you, thus causing you to miss. To prevent this, place a stick on the ground about ten feet in front of you and have him run over it. But caution him not to slow nor try to hurdle or jump over the rope.

Shake out a big loop on the ground, at least six or eight feet across for beginners, and arrange as in Picture 9. Note particularly that the back of the roper's hand which is holding the noose is toward the runner.

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10. After His Feet

Now let him come and yell to him to come fast. Just as he passes throw the rope over and down at his feet, as in Picture 10. Note that the back of the roper's hand is still toward the runner. He has not just swung his arias around parallel to the ground; rather, he has brought it over and down, turning his wrist as he threw so that the back of his hand and consequently the same side of the loop is toward the runner.

That is the difference between throwing to rope him by the head and by the feet. In throwing for his head you throw straight at it, while in catching his feet you turn your wrist and get him with the back side of the loop. Try it a time or two: it is not as hard as it sounds.

If you tined it right the loop will be there waiting for him as he passes and he will step right into it. Really, he ropes himself. All you do is to toss the noose over and have it waiting for him. It will take a little practice to time it just right. You will probably throw too soon at the start -it is better to wait a little too long, if anything.

What if the boy is coming from the opposite direction? You make precisely the same movements as before. The palm of the hand holding the noose will, of course, be toward the runner as you rope him now, for he is coming from the other direction, but your wrist will be in exactly the same position as before.


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Picture 11

A favorite stunt of the trick-roping cowboys of the rodeos is to catch several horses running side by side in a rope. This is by no means a difficult stunt, and any one who can rope one boy should have no difficulty in roping several (Pictures 11 and 12).

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12. All Five of Them
by the Feet

Have the boys lock arms to keep them close together, and tell them to sprint as fast as possible. Shake out a very big loop, and throw it just as you would if only one boy were running. Start by roping two boys, then add one at a time until you can manage six or seven.


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Roping a horse by the feet is in no wise different from roping a running boy; exactly the same movements which caught the boy will catch the horse. Make the loop sufficiently big, and step right up and rope him.

Of course, you must have a rider for the horse who will put him past you within roping distance while you practice. If your horse will canter past without stopping short or shying when the rope is thrown you are indeed fortunate. We watch the fancy trick ropers and marvel at their skill, but we forget that some of the credit is due the horse and the man who is riding him. These roping horses are specially trained and the rider has worked with the roper so long that he knows just what to expect.

There are some horses which could not be ridden for roping in a hundred years, but most horses soon get used to the. rope. Some will not shy in the least, even at the start. The best trick roper in the world could not catch a horse consistently if he stopped or shied past him, so do not be too severe with yourself if you miss now and then with a green horse. Put him past at a good fast canter, about eight or ten feet in front of you.


As soon as the rope hits the horse's feet, pull up quickly and you will have him trapped by the front legs. If you throw a big loop and hesitate just a second before pulling up you should have him by all four legs, which is a pretty and spectacular piece of roping. Having pulled the rope tight, drop it and let it drag on the ground. The rider should immediately pull up the horse and stop him, remove the rope and ride back for the next catch.


Toss a big noose over the horse's head so that it falls behind the rider, circling both the rider and the horse's neck.


A clever stunt with which the trick ropers often conclude their exhibitions is to rope the horse by the tail. Use a small noose, and just as the horse canters by, flip it up against his hind legs, snaring him by the tail. Of course, you will have to stand very close to the side of the horse as he passes.


Fancy roping includes both lariat throwing and rope spinning. When the rope spinning stunts in "How to Spin It" have been mastered, particularly the ocean wave  and the skip, it is possible to spin the rope for a few seconds while the horse is coming up, and then to rope him with the spinning noose. These tricks require years of practice and are beyond the scope of the average amateur.


The best quality 3/8 Manila rope recommended for the above tricks is the ideal practice rope for beginners, but those who develop a real interest in roping will probably want a Maguey rope (pronounced ma-gay), which is a Mexican hand-made rope of agave fiber. It is unexcelled for lariat throwing and trick roping. Lariat Types & Care contains the details regarding this rope, which is very inexpensive and can be obtained from any cowboy outfitters.

Chapter II: How to Spin It

How to Spin a Rope






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