Forward Note: The contemporary ranch rodeos are remiss in not producing a hoolihan contest both from afoot and mounted. Such a mounted contest could probably be incorporated with the calf branding exhibition. The Haley Library and several of its patrons would welcome an invitation to participate as sponsors and judges of such a contest at any of the four fine Texas ranch rodeos in Wichita Falls, Amarillo, Abilene or Midland.
What’s a Hoolihan?
As Haley details, “Good ‘throwing’ of the hoolihan requires a strong and supple shoulder (without a hint of bursitis) similar in capacity to one used in the good throwing of a baseball (or rock). But even more necessary is the flexibility and ‘action’ in the wrist and hand. In the delivery of the rope to its target, the wrist must rotate so that at the time of release the throwing hand is turned inward and inverted from fifty percent to almost ninety percent of normal, depending on the relative position of the target. Over the last forty or more years, visitors to ranches would have been much more apt to observe the hoolihan being used to rope out horses from the remuda by a man afoot than to have seen it used by a man from the back of his horse.”
See an article on the subject, “BACK IN TIME: Lots of Texans learned to rope using ‘The Hoolihan’” at OA Online.