I have roped cattle since I was a teenager.
Perhaps I should say I’ve roped AT cattle.
As an adult I discovered the Mexican art of Floreo, or making flowers with the lariat rope. It’s probably the most elegant part of the Mexican rodeo, the Charreada.
In four of the “suertes“ or performances of the Charreada the lariat rope, or reata, is used to catch an animal. But the process involves several minutes of rope spinning in multiple forms that absolutely defy the imagination. In fact for us mere mortals it defies capability.
I’ve been trying for decades. I think these Charros who do the Floreo were handed a little “Soga” or “Reata” as they slid out of the womb!
The art of Floreo developed over hundreds of years by the vaqueros in Mexico who gradually transitioned from the use of the lance or “Garrocha”, a three meter long stout wooden staff, to the use of the sixty foot long fiber rope.
The Floreo was at first a method of getting the rope alive through spinning or whirling so that it could fly a distance and stay open so as to trap the neck, horns, or legs of a running animal. Over hundreds of years this evolved into an art form such as we see now in the Charreada.
You can see it for yourself on YouTube or in many cities around North America at Fiesta times.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Mexican Charro has developed the art and use of the lariat rope to its highest form compared to anywhere on Earth!
However, I must say, going back to the garrocha that I mentioned, the stiffness of a lance can come in handy when working with some breeds of cattle. Specifically those with humps and long ears.
As I mentioned, I have roped a lot in the last fifty years. I must say, however, that even a really stiff lariat lacks a lot compared to the garrocha. Several bulls and a few feisty cows demonstrated that to me.
Once I had the rope on them, some took exception to being caught, charging up the rope at me and my horse. But that’s a story for another day.