Everyone loves their accessories. Where would I be without my computer or my phone or my car? Everyone has things they can’t do without, like my Kurig coffeepot! A Cowboy is the same. He has to have his horse, his truck, his trailer, his saddle, his gun- and his rope. Not a lasso. If you call a rope a lasso in front of a real cowboy, he’ll snicker. Only greenhorns or city folk call a rope a lasso. I don’t know why, and they can’t tell you why – its just the way it is.
Anyway, a rope is not just a rope. To the cowboy, a rope was a necessity. All the way back to the time of the Pharaohs’, rope and roping with a lariat type rope was done. There are relief sculptures in Egypt depicting the Pharaoh with a looped lariat held over his head and then another with it thrown over the horns of a bull. The rope is a necessary tool, so essential to working cattle that if you take away the rope, there would have been no such thing as a cowboy. The rope was so much a part of a cowboy’s life that he treated it as an extension of himself. Any city slicker or country boy could learn how to ride, but learning how to wield a rope was work. The art of roping accurately could take years to master.
Not all ropes were created equally. The material the rope is made from determined what the rope was called. In the far west, the riata was used. Normally, the riata was about sixty foot long and made from rawhide. Texas cowboys used a shorter rope made from manila which was softer and made from fibers of the banana plant woven looser than other ropes. Mexican influence gave the cowboy a rope called a maguey, made from the fibers of the century plant, but it was not a favorite since it tended to be very stiff. Ropes made from horse hair were too light, so cowboys didn’t like to use it for roping. The main use for the horsehair rope was decorative. It made good saddle reins and tie ropes.
The material a rope was made from was not its only distinguishing quality, the length of a rope determined its use. Shorter ropes were used for roping and corral work, like calving or branding while longer ropes were used to catch wild stock out on the range.
Ropes like saddles and boots were best after they were ‘broken in’ – a new rope is of little use. Ropes had to seasoned and stretched. Some techniques of breaking in a rope was to hold it over a fire to burn off the ‘whiskers’. Some would tie one end to a fence post and use their horse to pull on the rope to loosen it up. But once it was stretched, the rope could ‘live’ in the hands of the cowboy. A true roper could make the rope sing, actually making a hissing sound as it sailed through the air.
Besides roping cattle, a less savory use for the rope was for hangings. Countless people were hung in the old west, some by authorities and many by vigilantes or outlaws. Although hanging has been a method of execution since time began, all over the world, it became a symbol of the wildness of the old west. In the days of the cowboy, too many innocent people were lynched or killed before their crimes were judged. Being hanged for cattle rustling or robbery was commonplace. I can remember my grandfather talking about some of their cattle being stolen when he was young – and he was angry, but I don’t think the punishment necessarily fit the crime.
As my mom used to say – I’ve said all of that to say this – one of my mottos is “So many cowboys, so little rope” and while a cowboy and his rope is synonymous as the facts I’ve relayed above shows – that isn’t even close to what I’m referring to. As many of you women knew already, there is a much better use for a cowboy’s rope than taming a steer or meting out justice to a rustler. Hell yeah! Thank goodness. Now, I will admit that even though I’ve lived in Texas for a long time, I’ve never roped a cow. All of my cows came to me willingly in hopes I’d give them a nugget or scratch their ears – but I have led my horse, staked my dogs, I’ve even led a cat on a rope leash. I’ve made macramé, I’ve sectioned off part of my porch to keep people from walking in wet paint. Hmmm, I’ve tied a Christmas tree to my car with a rope and I’ve laid one down in the sincere hope that a snake wouldn’t cross it and crawl in my sleeping bag – BUT – rope can be used as a sensual accessory.
Allow me to elaborate – ha! Please.
Using a rope to restrain your cowboy can be as simple as tying his hands behind his back – although I will admit, I do love for him to have his hands free. And there is some appeal to having that rascal spread-eagle on the bed with his hands and feet tied to the four posts of my bed – – sorta like sitting down to a four course meal – an erotic banquet and you don’t really know how to begin.
There is another type of rope play that turns me on and that’s the Japanese art of Shinju or breast bondage where a rope is wound above and below a woman’s breast to frame and push them outward – erotic play that appeals to me a great deal. And speaking of macramé, the best use of rope I have ever seen went into the making of a sex swing.
Rope as a means of arousal is always a power play – the idea of being at someone’s mercy or having them at yours. While I tend to be dominant outside the bedroom, inside the submissive role is more fun. So the rope is a tool that can be used to illustrate and facilitate the power exchange.
So many cowboys, so little rope. What a thought. I think the idea of tying up a handsome cowboy or being lassoed by one is a much better use for the rope than hogtying some steer – any day of the week.
Thank you for listening to me ramble.