There’s more to the honda than meets the eye. Style, shape and material are all considerations when choosing the right rope for the job at hand.

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Without a honda on his rope, a cowboy would be hard-pressed to build a loop, let alone catch and keep anything in it. Located at the business end of a rope, the honda is what a rope passes through on its way to becoming a loop.

Fixed or tied on, the honda is an American form of the noose knot, designed to tighten the noose around an animal when the rope is pulled. Hondas are as varied as those who use them—found in all types, shapes and materials. In addition to forming the loop, the honda controls the speed of the rope passing through it, and the “stick” of the loop once it closes around its intended target.

Ranch-roping clinician and horse trainer Joe Wolter of Aspermont, Texas, offers the following insight into honda styles, materials and shapes, as well as some practical uses for each.

Rope Honda
Materials: Rope (nylon, poly, or similar materials) and burner.
Use: Ranch work, competition roping.
A competition roper uses a fixed-rope honda fashioned from the tail of his rope and fitted with a burner, which keeps the rope from wearing on itself. Burner types might vary, but they are commonly rawhide. Professional ropers will go through a lot of ropes until they find one that suits them, hence the reason they are less likely to tie a honda on each time.

Breakaway Honda
Plastic, nylon, wire.
Use: Practice roping, training young horses and ropers.
A breakaway honda is handy for practice or teaching a young horse that hasn’t been roped on before. It’s also great to build confidence in students who are just learning to dally. A beginner can focus on his dally without worrying about the rope running through his hands.

Metal Honda
Materials: Stainless steel, brass, aluminum.
Use: Ranch work, competition roping.
A metal honda allows rope to run faster (through the honda), is quick to release when given slack, and is low maintenance. Don’t look for a metal honda on a reata, however. That would be as commonplace as a California vaquero with a halter under his bridle.

Rawhide (braided or rolled).
Use: Ranch work, roping horses, competition roping.
Strong as steel and as light as plastic, rawhide outlasts many man-made materials. Rawhide hondas are great for roping horses because these hondas help keep the loop open longer and there’s less risk of injuring an animal. Commonly found on the reata, a rawhide honda is also a popular choice for many of today’s nylon and poly ropes.

Swivel Honda
Metal, rawhide.
Use: Ranch work, competition roping.
Any traditional honda tied to a rope has a tendency to swivel. Swivel-designed hondas take less rope to attach and always keep the rope straight. Beginners needn’t worry about wrestling the figure eight in their loop when using a swivel honda.

Use: Ranch work, competition roping.
While working on the Parker Ranch in Hawaii, Randy Rieman discovered a most unusual honda. Crafted from a brass ring used to run ropes on sailboats and yachts, the ring’s convexed interior, concave exterior and durable brass material naturally lend themselves for use as a honda in this wet region.

Shape Matters
From round and oblong to cylindrical, honda shapes vary. But, according to Wolter, a wide honda never goes out of style for the ranch roper. A wide honda allows the rope to run faster so it doesn’t hang up or stick as the loop is being thrown.

Article originally published in the August 2007 issue of Western Horseman.

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