My rope, Old Trusty, has found a new role, and she’s back in action.
By Kelli Neubert
March 8, 2016
I’ve got an old 45-foot nylon blend rope that I just love. I bought her maybe 10 years ago, and in the time between then and now, she’s lived in eight different tack rooms, been to brandings in several states and roped the dummy about 3 billion times. She’s been a good one through the years—it seems that no matter how much time passes, she’s always had a good feel to her. I even named her: “Old Trusty.”
Much to my dismay, time has finally caught up to Old Trusty and she’s really been looking her age. She’s morphed from a smooth, crisp loop into a worn, fuzzy nylon with embedded dirt in her grooves. Her “saved seat” on the right side of my saddle has been taken over by shorter, faster, more colorful ropes. Trusty’s been resting on a peg for awhile now, only to come down at random times to catch a colt by a hind foot, or have a swing or two for old time’s sake. I keep thinking to myself that maybe I should retire her for good—you know, turn her into a rope basket, or a mirror, or something of the sort to live out her golden years inside of someone’s living room.
One day, walking by, I noticed that Old Trusty had been tampered with. Her speed burner was still there, but she had a knot tied into her loop about 65 inches from the honda. There was even a little wire wrapped around the middle of my honda, leaving it only halfway open (to prevent the knot from slipping through).
Old Trusty had been turned into a knot rope.
A knot rope stems from the same concept as a rope with a breakaway honda. It allows the roper to practice tracking, catching cattle and dallying without being completely attached or needing help to remove the rope from the animal. The knot that is tied into the rope will end up in the body of your loop, which prevents the loop from completely closing around the head of the animal when you dally.
The distance between the knot and the honda is left to personal preference—some like their loop to close tighter than others. If you’re roping horned cattle, you need your knot to be farther from your honda than you would with smaller polled cattle.
The main advantage of a knot rope over a breakaway is that it still holds pressure when dallying, unlike the breakaway that immediately releases the animal. Once the cow is caught, you have to dally and hold her until she turns to face you, which then allows the rope to slip off of her head. Even if you don’t have a clean catch, the knot rope will still work its way off the cow, due to the fact that the loop never completely closes. It simulates a real situation for your horse because he has to learn to take the pull from a cow.
I truly believe it’s beneficial to get all horses comfortable with being roped on, no matter what their futures have mapped out ahead. Horses learn confidence, cow sense, and become accustomed to strange sounds, movement and pressure through the roping process. The knot rope is a great way for ropers and horses of all levels and abilities to practice the basics of roping without having a ground crew handy.
I’ll admit, though I was a little miffed that my husband, Luke, had modified my favorite rope, having a knot rope has added a valuable element to my day. It gives me an excuse to throw my rope more often and set up a situation where I can practice without taking up anyone else’s time.
As for Old Trusty? I suppose that for now, she just has to understand that she’s nowhere near retirement yet. She’s even got her saved seat back, cozied up atop my leg, just to the right of my saddle horn.
It beats the heck out of becoming a basket, anyway.