Roping Cattle

Roping Cattle for the Amateur Cowboy

Roping cattle is one of quintessential traits of being a cowboy. Numerous paintings and bronze statues feature people astride bucking broncos as they prepare to let loose their lassos and rope an escaping calf or cow.

Roping cattle is not an easy task, and takes an amazing amount of hand-eye coordination as well as strength and a steady hand. If you’re new to the activity or simply want to brush up on your cowboy skills, this simple and basic guide will give you some pointers to improve your roping ability.


If you are planning on practicing roping cattle and are a beginner, it is not suggested that you go out and buy a cheap rope and start practicing with bulls from the pasture down the road. If this is something you are serious about, you will need a good quality rope, about 3/8” in thickness, and 30 – 40 feet in length.

Also, unless you have sawhorses or other “practice cows” like barrels and small bushes, you should purchase some. You do not want to start right off the bat with a fast moving target or an animal that can potentially gore you. You may also want to invest in a good pair of gloves to prevent painful blisters.

Making a Lasso

There’s a lot more to a lasso than just tying a tight knot and making sure you have a hoop. Proper lassos are made from tying a honda (a type of knot commonly used) and threading rope through.

To make a honda, take your rope and tie a simple overhand knot. Pass the end through the rope again and then pull it tight at one end. You should now have a loop that is 3 to 4 inches long (make adjustments if necessary). Make sure that the knot is secure by tightening it and ensuring it won’t come undone. Pass the other end of the rope completely through your newly created honda to complete the lasso.

Setting Up

Find an area that is wide open and free of things to knock over and potentially get tangled in. Set up one or two of your “practice cows” and take several steps back. You don’t need to be back 15 feet, but you shouldn’t be right on top of it either. Find a distance that will allow you to swing the rope around a bit and make you have to aim.

Readying the Lasso

Hold the honda in your hand and shake it out until you have a lasso about 4 – 5 feet long. Make sure that any tangles in the rope are gone in order to prevent any mishaps. Once you are comfortable with the rope in your hand, and confident that you aren’t going to trip over yourself, you can begin practice.


Make sure the honda is facing away from you, palm up. Stand with the lasso loop well behind you and step forward on your left foot. Let the rope go and try to loop onto your “practice cow.” While this may not be as glitzy and glamorous as you had thought, the lasso spinning will have to wait until your basic skills are improved upon and you have more of a distance between you and the item you are roping.

When you are able to consistently rope the item, increase the distance. The further apart you get, the harder it will be to fling the rope. This is when swinging the lasso comes into play. Lasso swinging is to get enough momentum up to be able to send the rope a farther distance. Continue practicing and you’ll soon be ready to rope a cow.