Some are just lethal with a rope. Every time you hear their names announced, you drop everything to admire their talents from the sidelines. Greats like Jake and Clay, the Locketts, the Coopers, Jade Corkill, Russell Cardoza, Trevor Brazile, Tammy White... the list goes on. Now think of all the many cowboys and cowgirls who claimed “cowboying” as their career, their livelihood, the only thing they’ve ever known.
One of the most vital pieces of equipment for any cowboy is a rope. A good rope that makes the cowboy feel confident, is high in quality and lay, and is specific to the individual’s needs. As our world has evolved, so has the competition and the evolution of the rope and the industry.
Have you ever really sat back and thought heavily about just exactly where the rope you use originated?
There is no clear origin of civilization that has claimed the invention of the lasso, but it is clear that both Old World and New World civilizations seem to have been created by ancient civilization and Native Americans. Dating back to 17,000 years ago, drawings of rope-making slaves have been found inside some ancient Egyptian burial sites. In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 4:12 makes reference to the strength of a “cord with three strands.” In Egypt and Rome, many paintings depict warriors taking down sacred bulls, as if the rope was a gladiator weapon. Before the Europeans set foot in the New World, Native Americans were capturing Spanish conquistadors by roping them. Of course, when the Spanish introduced horses, Native Americans took roping to another level by attacking on horseback.
In Mexico, the method of lassoing with a lariat did not emerge until after the hocking knife was too brutal of a technique. As the hocking knife was replaced by a rope, vaqueros didn’t swing or throw the rope. Instead, the vaquero placed the loop of the lariat at the end of a lance and then rode up close enough to the cattle’s head to drop the loop over its horns. At first, the vaqueros looped the lariat around their horse’s tail, as there was not an adequate saddle horn. As you can imagine, this failed miserably. They decided to redesign the Spanish saddle by incorporating a sturdy saddle horn. Then they realized their braided cowhide material used as rope was not efficient.
There is also the famous cowboy tall-tale of Pecos Bill. Rumor has it Pecos Bill was raised by a mama coyote; who discovered branding cattle, then horseback riding maneuvers and later, the lasso. He is claimed to be the original “Poet Lariat,” even before Will Rogers.
No one will ever really know where the cowboy’s weapon came from. We know the importance and significance of the rope, but to think where we would be without it, would be too hard to ponder. It will remain in cowboy history as a mystery.
The author of the blog, California Dreamin’ (www.calidreamin.com), Amy Witt’s articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers around the world. A fashionista, cowgirl and journalist, Amy strives to motivate and inspire people around the world.