For bull riders, everything comes down to eight seconds. Once the gate opens, cowboys use all of their available skill and strength to remain on the bull for the full run – a premature fall or dismount of even milliseconds can mean the difference between first and last place. One of the most integral pieces of equipment utilized by bull riders is the bull rope. Looped around the middle of the bull, the bull rope creates a handle and provides leverage to help you move with each buck and turn.
What Makes a Bull Rope?
Bull ropes consist of polypropylene and differing mixtures of nylon and leather, braided to create various levels of stiffness. Nylon provides a softer grip while leather is sturdier. Bull ropes also contain plait patterns, which refers to the number of individual strands woven together and the tightness of the braid. Again, a higher number of plaits correlates with increased stiffness. A stiffer bull rope creates a larger handle less prone to twisting – if the rope twists, your hand can become caught, leading to increased risk of injury. Beyond the handle, the bull rope ends in a tail. The tail wraps around your wrist to increase your grip – keeping you connected to the bull even as your hand muscles fatigue.