Sunday, November 04, 2007

Technology for the cowboy
Cowboy Sass And Savvy

By Julie Carter

When you see a cowboy leaning on the side of a pickup with an adult beverage in his hand, hat cocked back and a big toothy grin accenting the story he is telling, you just never, even remotely, consider there might be cutting-edge technology impacting his life, his job and his sport.

For the competitive roper, technology has become an integral part of his game.

For instance, a new rope has now come on the cowboy equipment scene that has some sort of space-age coating baked on it, so that it never loses its "slickum." Thereby, it is always fast in doing its job. This sci-fi layer replaces the wax coating common to good ropes.

There is also a rope available with a weighted tip in the loop. Evidently, someone, theoretically a roping consultant of reputed expertise, determines the perfect tip point. The rope is fashioned with a weight at that point. Bowling ball technology may have moved to the cowboy world.

The senior cowboys still hanging on in the new world of the techno-roper will regale you with stories of how ropes used to be made at home, not bought already manufactured.

A trip to the feed store allowed for the purchase of the right length of grass rope which was taken home, stretched for a millennium and left out to be weather-cured.

At just the right time, which often was determined by necessity, the rope was taken loose, a honda tied in it and a burner placed in the honda. A kitchen match struck on the backside of a denimed-leg was used to burn the burrs off the rope. With a bread wrapper or other such modern plastic technology, a slightly slick finish could be rubbed on the rope and it was good to go.

This piece of handcrafted equipment seemed to last longer. The amount of trouble it took to make it might have been a definite incentive for longevity. According to memory and legend, this masterpiece caught faster, bigger cattle more often with better accuracy. It could have also hung a few deserving people and in general was a valuable piece of equipment.

And as a bottom line, the initial grass rope to start this process cost only $4. The 100 hours of work put in the construction was valued at a quarter an hour. That brought the complete production cost to $29, which is, coincidentally, the same cost as today's no-count nylon and poly ropes. Progress is wonderful isn't it?

Other technology gains have been as major as the invention of the horse trailer, pop-top cans eliminating the need for keeping track of the "church key" opener and in the integration of sports physiology and sports psychology.

Video cameras allow for taping and analyzing runs to find places to shave off a hundredth of a second. It also gave the fence sitters a viable job instead of using the afternoon to empty the requisite resident cooler while telling the other ropers how it should be done. This may account for some of the roping runs, which are over before you can say how much it would pay to win.

I'm a fairly technological person. I'm thinking I could easily upgrade to this more technological cowboy world.

In fact, I bet I could run the chute with that new electronic remote control, or operate the cooler lid and possibly both at the same time.

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