By BRUCE CLINTON, originally published in the September-October, 1941
The lariat has been in use as a “catch-rope” since as far back as 500 B.
Now when any person depends entirely upon his rope as an instrument of war for his own personal protection, then said
It doesn’t matter just how clever the above parties might have been in the manipulation of their ropes as we are wondering just how some of them would make out if they were to ride into a rodeo arena of today and try their luck at spilling a few fast loops at a number of fast and wildly-running Brahma and black Angus calves.
It is this writer’s opinion, shared by others, that said Sagartian soldiers would need something more than a mere “catch-rope” for self protection if they were to get mixed up with some of the above mentioned calves which the rodeo boys are working with today. Because, Brahma and Angus calves don’t just fight a roper; they meet him on even footing and then spot him the first four punches! And, it requires much skill and not a small portion of just plain guts for any cowboy to catch and hog-tie one of them in anything less than twenty seconds. Yet there are whole herds of them being roped and tied in less time than twenty seconds each day at some rodeo by the professional boys, the best ropers in the world.
American contest ropers have become the world’s best through constant practice at and participation in the whirlwind competition of the rodeo arena.
Naming some of the top-notch contest steer ropers of the past twenty-five years we will list the late Tommy Grimes. His winnings in the steer roping event at Pendleton alone makes him one of the truly outstanding ropers on record. Tommy’s record at Pendleton shows that he won three firsts, two seconds, and one third at a contest featuring really good ropers.
Eddy McCarty of Chugwater, Wyoming, also has a good record as a steer roper, having won a first at Cheyenne and two-firsts and three seconds at Pendleton.
Naming the outstanding steer roper of the Cheyenne Frontier Day’s contest since its inception, and one of the greatest ropers of all-time, we give you that Oklahoma cowboy, Fred Lowery.
Between the years of 1916 and 1929, Fred rode out to win the Cheyenne steer roping event no less than six times, a feat unequaled by any roper at any contest in the world. And, when one stops to consider the competition at The Daddy of ‘Em All, then Lowery’s record takes on even greater significance for the greatest contest ropers in the country trek to Cheyenne each year. And in 1916, ’21, ’24, ’25, ’27 and ’29 did, by the official record out
Contest steer roping is a game that calls for great skill in man and his mount as well as much cold nerve, and contest steer roping is a dangerous sport for the “green” roper and the “green” mount. In fact, not a few seasoned rodeo troupers
But, all contest ropers love the sport as sport, and they participate knowing that most anything is liable to happen when they leave the barrier in a wild dash after some long-horn.
A story is told in the rodeo arenas of one roper which should prove the spirit of these men. This particular contestant is Leonard Ward, a former World’s Champion, and· the story concerns his attending a large rodeo held in Australia. The management asked Leonard to give an exhibition of wild steer roping as done in the United States and, Leonard,
Leonard began looking for a roping mount but could find none but native Australian horses, none of which had ever jerked a steer down as we do it in this country. But such a minor thing failed to stop Leonard. He mounted his native pony and rode behind the barrier. Then a big, wild steer was turned out and this American buckaroo a good one, too, really “took to his bovine.”
After a short run, Leonard made a pretty catch, flipped his slack rope over the steer’s back and
rode by the animal in order to throw him. There was a very sudden jerk and down went steer, horse AND Leonard. The horse rolled completely over our American cowboy and he was knocked almost senseless while the large crowd sat completely spellbound. Finally, after the dust cleared away, Leonard staggered to his feet, picked up his fallen hat, made a sweeping bow to the
To date, no one has been able to say just exactly what that large crowd thought about the way in which Leonard showed them how to rope a wild steer in the “American manner.” However, we don’t doubt but what they think American cowboys a rather salty bunch. And, they are!
Leonard knew perfectly well just what he was letting himself in for when he agreed to perform such an act while riding an absolutely “green” mount, but he was filled with that old American cowboy spirit of sport for sport’s sake and, although the event didn’t go off as per true form, Leonard Ward managed to get the job done.
Naming some of the top-notch calf ropers of the recent past, we will list the late Jake McClure of Lovington, New Mexico. This smallish cowboy had, beyond a doubt, the greatest “speed rope” and he used the smallest loop the rodeo circuit has ever known. Jake didn’t claim to be the world’s best calf roper but, he would quickly and quietly match the fellow who did make such a claim. And, he seldom lost a contest
Just a small portion of Jake’s record shows that he won over all comers at the Calgary Stampede, two firsts and two seconds at the Pendleton Roundup, two firsts in the calf roping and one first in the steer roping at Cheyenne, and a first at Madison Square Garden in 1938 when he roped and tied eleven calves in 269 and 2/5 seconds.
At Denver in 1933, Jake roped his way to first money when he caught and tied five big calves in 82 seconds
His favorite roping mounts were Legs and Silver, the latter once being presented with the Prince of Wales trophy for being the best working calf roping horse in the country. Both horses, like their master, have passed on. And we only hope that the great little champion from down New Mexico way was fortunate enough to draw one of them for
Bob Crosby of Roswell, New Mexico, has been one of the greatest if not the greatest all-around contest ropers of all-time. He has never
On May 4 of this
Crosby’s total time in the twelve steers was 575:8 seconds
It was a hard contest for Carl to lose and he quickly asked for and got a rematch with the same amount of $1,000 to be wagered by each roper. The rematch was arranged by the Lion’s Club of Roswell where the contest was held on June 29.
While 6000 roping fans jammed the rodeo grounds, two of the world’s best ropers fought it out. On his second steer, Bob Crosby took the lead and held it until he reached his tenth steer and when he was injured seriously.
Bob missed his first loop on this steer and he had to use a second one, Catching the animal around the neck, Crosby’s mount, Junebug, was jerked to the ground where he fell on Bob’s leg and rolled completely over his body. Bob’s head struck the hard ground with terrific force and he was knocked senseless for several hours.
Carl Arnold was requested to rope his tenth steer to win the championship which he did in the good time of 22 seconds. Carl’s comment after the contest was, “I’d rather see Bob out of the hospital than have the championship.”
Yes, calf roping is an art, and the men and horses who participate in the game are true artists because they are highly skilled.