SAN ANTONIO — It’s time to get Rodeo Ready! I learned the art of tie-down roping with roping pro, Skip Lietz, Vice Chairman of the Ranch and Collegiate Committee. The lesson began at Hidden Springs Youth Ranch with two dummy calves, two ropes, and two cowboys taking in the brisk country air. Lietz walked me through the different parts of the rope and how to hold it, rotate it, and throw it for best chances of hooking a calf in the loop of the lasso.

The honda is the small loop knot used in a lasso. The spoke determines the shape of the loop when spinning. The horn knot is the small device that allows the rope to attach to the saddle horn.

My first attempt was a complete fail. I threw the lasso with confidence and roped up chunks of dirt and fertilizer barely even skimming the head of the dummy calf. I managed to wrangle the lasso around the horns in the second attempt and had to document the victory with a selfie. It didn't really happen unless it's on the internet, right?

If it’s your first rodeo, you may wonder, as I did, about the well-being of the animals when they are roped up so aggressively. Lietz assured me that the safety of the riders and the animals are the top priority of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. In fact, the sport of tie-down roping began as a way to help injured cattle.

“Tie-down roping got its beginning by going out to the herd, taking care of the calves out there, doctoring them, and not having to drive them the long way back to camp,” said Lietz.

The sport found its origins in this unique care-taking technique.

“The guys would do cattle drives up to Kansas City, and once they got there and they got paid, they wanted to see who was the best at [roping] and so the sport was born at that point,” Lietz added.

We couldn’t end our time together without a roping throw down. I challenged Lietz to a rope-off with three rounds, in the which the winner would be determined by the most lasso connections to the dummy calves out of three attempts. It was a sad day to be a new cowboy for me, as Lietz held nothing back and put me to shame winning 2-0.

Click here to learn how you can tour Hidden Springs Youth Ranch to get your family rodeo ready.