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Trick roping facts for kids

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Soldiers from Western Canada as cowboys, demonstrating roping (19533044975)
Trick roping, circa 1914
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A charro demonstrating trick roping, circa 2013

Trick roping is an entertainment or competitive art involving the spinning of a lasso, also known as a lariat or a rope. It is particularly associated with Wild West shows or Western arts in the United States.

The lasso is a well-known tool of American cowboys, who developed rope spinning and throwing skills in using lassos to catch animals. Cowboys developed various tricks to show off their prowess with the lasso and demonstrations of these tricks evolved into entertainment and competitive disciplines.

The well-established repertoire of tricks can be divided into three fundamental categories: "flat loop", "vertical loop", and "butterfly". In addition, thrown-loop tricks and tricks that involve the use of two ropes are used. Among the vertical loop tricks is the "Texas Skip", which involves the performer spinning the lasso in a wide loop in a vertical plane and jumping through the loop from one side to the other on each rotation.

Well-known trick ropers include:

  • Texas Jack Omohundro was the first performer to introduce roping acts to the American stage.
  • Texas Rose Bascom was of Cherokee Choctaw ancestry billed as the "Queen of the Trick Ropers," appeared in Hollywood movies, toured the world with the Bob Hope Troupe, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Montie Montana, inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
  • Montie Montana had a 60-year career as a trick roper, and appeared in several John Wayne movies.
  • Actor and humorist Will Rogers, known for his roles as a cowboy, was an expert at trick roping. Rogers' rope tricks were showcased in the 1922 silent film The Ropin' Fool.
  • Vince Bruce (b. April 4, 1955, d. September 24, 2011) was internationally acclaimed as one of the best Western acts in the world; Bruce made his Broadway debut in 1991, in the Tony Award-winning musical The Will Rogers Follies — A Life in Revue. Appearing as the trick-roping star and portraying Rogers in this tribute to the cowboy and vaudeville star, Bruce remained with the show for two and a half years at New York’s Palace Theatre. For his act, he performed a spin with two ropes, a feat first devised 60 years earlier by Will Rogers himself. On July 21, 1991, at the Empire State Building, Vince set a new world record — 4,011 — for “Texas Skips”.
  • Flores LaDue (1883-1951) was the only cowgirl to claim three world championships for trick and fancy roping; Flores remained undefeated in the event. Flores and her husband, Guy Weadick, also a trick roper, organized and produced the first Calgary Stampede. Flores Ladue is reputed to have been the first trick roper to perform the Texas Skip.
  • Horse trainer Buck Brannaman began his career in a child trick roping act with his brother.
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