When asked to describe a lasso as well as what it is used for, most people would simply tell you that it is a piece of rope that cowboys and ranch owners use to capture horses and cattle. While this is technically true, there is so much more to the lasso than what most people associate it with. Continue reading for more information on different variations of lassos, their uses, history, and our best selling lasso ropes.
History of the Lasso
The word lasso derives from the Spanish word "lazo", meaning "tie". While lassos are mostly associated with America, specifically cowboys and Western America, there is evidence of lassos being used all throughout history; in fact, images depicting Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs using lassos have been discovered and recorded. In addition to this, lassos have been recorded to have been in use by the Asian Huns as well as the Persians as a critical tool in battle. Native Americans used them in battle against the Spanish conquistadors, and when Spain introduced horses to the New World, Native Americans quickly caught on to using the lasso from horseback. This is where the modern use of lassos in rodeo got its roots. It has also been documented that African slaves in Mexico were among the first individuals to use lassos (also referred to as "lariats") to round up loose cattle from horseback, bringing upon the very first "cowboys".
Variations of the Lasso
While most people may simply just assume that lassos are made from rope, used to round up livestock, and there isn't much more to consider, there are different variations of the lasso that have different uses. In fact, each year, as more studies are done on what works and what dosen't work for ranchers, rodeo stars, and cowboys alike, more types of ropes and lassos are being designed than ever before.
Initially, lassos were usually made of horse hair or cowhide. Hair ropes were often a favorite due to being lighter than cowhide ropes, but they often did not age or wear well, and were prone to kinks. Cowhide ropes, while producing better results, were quite heavy and clunky, and posed the risk of easily breaking once a few strands wore out. While these types of ropes are now outdated and often times not as useful as other types, it is not completely uncommon for older, more traditional ropers to prefer to use these classic types of rope.
After years of trial and error, new materials were introduced to produce a more useful lasso. The modern lasso is usually made of hemp or nylon, both of which have proved to perform much better than their predecessors. In some cases, ropes will be made up of a blend of different materials to produce a more superior product that combines the best aspects of different types of rope.
Hemp and nylon are some of the materials of choice for most modern cowboys and ranchers. The materials have proven to be substantially more durable and useful than both hair and cowhide ropes. For those who prefer a more classic type of rope that pays tribute to the lasso's roots, the Maguey lariat is often favored. Maguey rope is made from Agave strands, and the finished product is smooth and strong, known for its stiffness, which is great for holding a good noose.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Lasso
Keeping the different variations, as well as the different materials in mind is crucial when deciding which type of lasso works best for you. Some ropes will be more stiff than others, and every rope is different, just like every user is different. Take into consideration what you will be using it for and what you expect out of the lasso. Think about the type of movement and giveback you'd like to recieve from the rope while using it. Consider the weight as well; while this may not seem like a huge factor at first, the weight of your rope can be the factor that decides if you're going to rope in your target or not.
People tend to have different preferences for lariat ropes in terms of material and weight. As a general rule, we'd recommend one of the Neil Love ropes for a beginner as:
Remember, this lasso is for you, and what works for someone else may not always work for you as well.
How to Throw a Lasso
The first step in throwing a lasso is to ensure that you have your lasso prepared. Take your rope and fashion it into neat, similar-sized circles. Take the smaller hoop at the end-the hondo/honda- and thread the rope through to form a hoop. Keep this close; this is the end that you will end up throwing!
Bring your hand holding the hoop forward at stomach level. Bring your hoop into a swing over your head and find your target. If your target is a live animal, wait until you have a perfect view between the ears or horns. When you're ready, bring your swinging loop forward and release, visualizing yourself actually reaching out and touching the spot you're aiming to rope. If you're aiming to rope the horns and you've gotten one of them, bring your hand steadily to the side to ease the rope on to the other horn as well. As soon as you've got your rope around your target(s), quickly reach out and tighten up any slack in the rope. And voila! You've got yourself a successful lasso throwing.
After using your lasso, you'll want to recoil it neatly and hang somewhere where it will not get damp. Dampness-whether it be caused by rain or water leakage-will cause the rope to become limp once it dries out. This makes it almost impossible to throw a good lasso, as the rope will not have enough integrity to stay intact while it is being thrown. For this reason, keep your ropes in a dry area whenever not in use.
Keeping all of this information in mind, you can now move forward towards choosing the lasso that works best for you and your roping needs. Remember that roping is a difficult sport, and it is important not to get discouraged when you are first starting out. Practice certainly makes perfect, and any expert roper will tell you that roping is all about taking the love you already have for the sport and integrating it into your skill set.