"Reata redirects here. For the comic book character, see
A lasso, lariat, or riata(from the Spanish "reata") is a loop of
ropethat is designed to be thrown around a target and tighten when pulled. It is a well-known tool of the American cowboy. The word is also a verb; "to lasso" is to successfully throw the loop of rope around something. When referring to the entire length of rope used, before or after a loop is formed, the rope itself is more properly called a lariat. Many cowboys simply call it a "rope."
A lariat is made from stiff rope so that the
noosestays open when the lasso is thrown. It also allows the cowboy to easily open up the noose from horsebackto release the cattle because the rope is stiff enough to be pushed a little. A high quality lasso is weightedfor better handling. The lariat has a small reinforced loop at one end, called a "hondo," through which the rope passes to form a loop. The other end is usually tied simply in a small, tight, overhand knot to prevent fraying. Most modern lariats are made of stiff nylon rope, usually about 5/16" or 3/8" in diameter.
The lariat is used today in
rodeos as part of the competitive events such as calf ropingand team roping. It is also still used on working ranches to capture cattleor other livestockwhen necessary. After catching the cattle, the lasso can be tied or wrapped (dallied) around the "horn", a typical feature on the front of a western saddle. With the lariat around the horn, the cowboy can use his horseas the equivalent of a towtruckwith a winch.
Part of the
historical cultureof both the vaqueros of Mexicoand the cowboys of the Western United States, is a related skill now called "trick roping", a performance of assorted lasso spinning tricks. Will Rogerswas a well-known practitioner of trick roping and the natural horsemanshippractitioner Buck Brannamanalso got his start as a trick roper when he was a child.
Lassos are not only part of North American culture; relief carvings at the ancient Egyptian temple of
Pharaoh Seti Iat Abydos, built c.1280 BC, show the pharaoh holding a lasso, then holding onto a bull roped around the horns. They were also used by Tatarsand are still used by the Sami people. In Mongolia, a variant of the lasso called an "uurga" (Lang-mn|уурга) is used, consisting of a rope loop at the end of a long pole.
* [http://www.juggling.org/books/lasso "The Lasso: A Rational Guide to Trick Roping"] by Carey Bunks
* [http://www.bookofcool.com Footage of multiple Lasso World Champions]
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