How do I use the lariat?

I’m hoping you can help a frustrated horseman over here in England. How do I use the lariat?

Daryl Wight

English Lake District, Cumbria, England, UK

My dad fixed up a rope for me when I was about five. First he tied a honda knot on one end of the rope; then he showed me how to shake it out and build a loop. He also showed me how to rotate counter-clockwise to take the kinks out after you toss the loop.

He then taught me how to rotate my wrist above my head and to keep my loop flat. Start out close and whirl it over your head a couple of times, and toss it over a fence post or something similar.

He also showed me how to toss a hooley-ann, or backhand loop. That’s similar to a tennis player’s backhand versus a forehand stroke. You start with the loop over your left shoulder and bring it around counter-clockwise over your head once and let it go.

A hooley-ann is mostly for range roping, when the calf has cut back toward the rider. It’s also a quieter loop to toss when roping horses in a corral, because it doesn’t spook them as much.

I’ve talked to a lot of good ropers who started out roping chickens and graduated up to bigger animal fare.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.