Trick roping is an entertainment or competitive art involving the spinning of a lasso, also known as a lariat or a "rope." It is particularly associated with Wild West shows or western arts in the United States.
The lasso is a well-known tool of American cowboys, who developed rope spinning and throwing skills in using lassos to catch animals. Cowboys developed various tricks to show off their prowess with the lasso and demonstrations of these tricks evolved into entertainment and competitive disciplines.
There is a well-established repertoire of tricks that can be divided into three fundamental categories: "flat loop", "vertical loop" and "butterfly". In addition there are thrown loop tricks and tricks that involve the use of two ropes. Among the vertical loop tricks is the "Texas Skip", which involves the performer spinning the lasso in a wide loop in a vertical plane and jumping through the loop from one side to the other on each rotation.
Well-known trick ropers include:
- Montie Montana, who had a 60-year career as a trick roper, also appeared in several John Wayne movies.
- Actor and humorist Will Rogers, known for his roles as a cowboy, was an expert at trick roping. Rogers' rope tricks were showcased in the 1922 silent film "The Ropin' Fool."
- Vince Bruce, born April 4, 1955, died September 24, 2011: Internationally acclaimed as one of the best western acts in the world, Bruce made his Broadway debut in 1991, in the Tony Award-winning musical The Will Rogers Follies — A Life in Revue. Appearing as the trick-roping star and portraying Rogers in this tribute to the cowboy and vaudeville star, Bruce remained with the show for two and a half years at New York’s Palace Theatre. For his act, he performed a spin with two ropes, a feat first devised 60 years earlier by Will Rogers himself. On July 21, 1991, at the Empire State Building, Vince set a new world record — 4,011 — for “Texas Skips”.
- Flores LaDue (1883-1951): the only cowgirl to claim three world championships for trick and fancy roping, Flores remained undefeated in the event. Flores and her husband, Guy Weadick, also a Trick Roper, organized and produced the first Calgary Stampede. Flores Ladue is reputed to have been the first trick roper to perform the trick known as the Texas Skip.
- Bunks, Carey D (1996), The Lasso: A Rational Guide to Trick Roping, Carey Bunks (Boston), retrieved 2007-04-16
- Logan, Herschel C. (1954). Buckskin and Satin: The Life of Texas Jack and His Wife. Harrisburg: Stackpole. p. 73.
- Badger, Clarence G. (1922-10-29), The Ropin' Fool, retrieved 2016-02-23
- "Vince Bruce - Obituaries". The Telegraph. 10 Oct 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Flores Ladue". National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- The Lasso: A Rational Guide to Trick Roping by Carey Bunks, a book on trick roping that is available online under a GPL-type licence.