Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Learning How to Rope from the Rodeo Pro

Cowboy has a huge belt buckle collection for winning at several rodeos with his roping skills. My favorites are a Toas, NM belt buckle and a Pikes Peak, CO one from 2006 that he wears a lot. So when he offered to teach me how to rope I was thrilled to learn something that he is such an expert at.

Monday was absolutely beautiful out, and Ranger was soaking wet from running through all the puddles from the melted ice. He later got a bath that night. I got a few shots of him standing in the water and drinking it at the same time. The ice had melted enough for Cowboy to pull his roping dummy out of it in the front yard, a big square with a plastic calf head and horns on it. He moved it to the back yard and started practicing his roping, twirling the rope loop around his head several times then throwing it, catching the dummy horns with it. With a yank down of his arm, the rope loop was tight around the horns. That was how it was done, looked easy enough. He told me it took him five years to learn how to do that and I laughed.

He handed me the rope, ready to see me make a fool of myself after laughing at how long it takes to learn. He sat back with a cigarette while I tried twirling it around my head, but I kept getting my arms and neck tangled in the loop. Roping is very hard to do, cowboys just make it look easy. He took the rope back from me, and showed me how he twirled his wrist around, it looked so easy. I gave it another try, getting myself tangled up in the rope again. This went on for a while. As I tried to get the rope twirling around my head, he walked around the ranch, pulling stuff out of the ice and putting things in their proper places. He grabbed a container of molasses out of the ice, and gave it to the horses who have been licking it and hitting it with their hooves for days now. It was feeding time and he pitched a good amount of hay in the big tractor tire for them while I made a fool of myself with the rope. The horses were too busy licking the molasses to even care about the hay.

Finally, I asked him to stand behind me and to move my hand with his as he roped. His strong hand guided mine, and I finally understood how to do it. He let go and I was still twirling the loop of rope above my head. He told me to do it for an hour, and added that I wasn't allowed to try to rope the dummy yet. He walked off doing chores and I walked around the ranch roping for a good hour. I roped for so long that I got a horrible blister on one of my fingers. I didn't stop when it hurt though, I kept going and the blister broke. Then I moved that finger to a different spot and still kept roping. When he saw my finger, he pulled a roping glove out of the horse trailer and I kept roping until the sun set. It was warm enough that my light jacket was enough to wear when just a week ago I bundled up in a few coats and Cowboy's huge insulated snow boots just to give the horses their 5am hay breakfast in the dark when he was out of town. I remember the icy cold air slapping my face as soon as I stepped out of the house, and now there is a warm breeze.

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