My latest Works….

“The Horn Knot”

Let me explain!

Sometimes I take it for granted that the things that are my everyday are widely known and recognized. Knot so. (Good pun, right?!) A “horn knot” is a knot that is tied in the tail end of a lariat rope. I portrayed my husband in the middle of tying this interesting knot because it’s a bit of an oddity nowadays. Once the knot is tied, it can be slipped over the horn of a saddle and when the cowboy, (ahem, OR cowgirl), ropes something, they simply let the slack out of the rope, either by slowing their horse down or by letting the critter they’ve roped come to the end of their “twine”. This is known as being “tied on”. A lot of folks do not tie on, as it’s a bit dangerous. If your horse doesn’t stay facing the animal you’ve caught, the rider risks getting wrapped up in the rope, the horse could step over the slack, causing a “heckuva wreck”, and possibly injuring the horse, the bovine and certainly the rider. Oftentimes, the animal in question most decidedly does NOT want to be helped and lots of things can go wrong. Most people prefer to “dally” their rope around the horn, and then if things go south, they have only to let go of the rope to get themselves out of a bind. When you’re tied on, however, you’re committed to the situation at hand. Those three strands of rope you can see hanging down over my husband’s hand? After the knot is tied, those strands are braided into a short tail, or handle, so you can reach down and get ahold of it, and pull it off the horn if you are ready to release whatever it is you’ve caught, or if you’re fixing to get in a wreck and need to not be tied onto anything to avoid someone getting hurt. Why rope something in the first place? If you’ve ever been to a rodeo, you’ve seen the steers and calves roped in a timed event, and that’s that. It’s all about how fast they can be caught. In real ranch situations however, cattle sometimes get sick, get hurt and need help. Sometimes a calf gets separated from its mother and will starve slowly if you don’t catch him and reunite them. The scenarios are endless. A good hand however, can often rope an animal without ever leaving a walk. Once tied on, a good horse will “work” a rope and keep it tight so the rider can doctor the cow or calf and do whatever it is that needs done. Generally speaking, the cowboy is often prowling pastures alone, so the need to be tied on and riding a good horse is vastly important for him to get the job done. Horn knots however, are not common in this part of the world (Southern Kansas) but the further south you go, most especially into Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, the more common the horn knots that can be spotted on the dusty saddles of the working cowboy. The little details in life like this that I get to experience because of my husband’s background and experience, he doesn’t give a second thought to. But I think, wow. I never knew that. I’d like to capture that on paper and show it to the world. I’m proud to carry a horn knot on my own saddle and use it to make our cattle operation run smoother, keep our cattle healthy and keep this tradition alive. Thanks for looking at my drawing of this little piece of living history.

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