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The Girl Champion Cow Puncher
Chicago Daily Tribune Sun, 8 Nov 1903

THE recent announcement of the winning of a $10,000 steer roping prize by Miss Lucille Mulhall at South McAlester, I. T., did not surprise cowboys in the northwest who are familiar with Miss Mulhall's skill with the lariat.

Miss Mulhall has taken part in many cattle roping exhibitions and several times has won second and third prizes. Consequently, her winning a first prize at South McAlester cannot be regarded as a mere "fluke," but is the outcome of her long and plucky practice with the rope in competition with the best lariat throwers in the world.

Miss Mulhall, whose clever lariat throwing once earned the warm commendation of President Roosevelt, has been handling a rope since her early childhood. She is now scarcely 18 years old, and, although she does not weigh much over 100 pounds, it is a revelation to see her work in the saddle. In her young girlhood Miss Mulhall began roping calves on her father's ranch in Oklahoma. "Zack" Mulhall, as her father is familiarly known throughout the southwest, is a well known cattleman and railroad official. He has encouraged his daughter's fondness for cowboy sports, believing that she can get no better exercise.

More Fun than Playing Golf
As for Miss Mulhall, she declares that it is far more fun to rope and tie a fractious steer than to spend an afternoon on the golf links or at the tennis net. The girl has made some remarkable records in the arena. At South McAlester she tied three steers in forty-three seconds, one minute and eleven seconds, and forty seconds respectively. Her last steer was tied within a few seconds of the record, and old time judges you have watched her work say that in another year or two the girl should be able to beat all established records in this line.

Steer roping, in spite of the interference of humane societies, continues to be one of the favorite sports of the great west. At the county fairs or other fall celebrations in nearly every cattle state the broncho busting and steer roping contests are made the features instead of the fat cattle and fat pumpkin exhibits which so delight the heart of the eastern farmer. Western men and women show an astonish familiarity with the sport of cattle roping in all its details, and no typro can go into the arena and "make good" anywhere west of the Missouri.

Nervous Under President's Eyes
A notable exception to this rule was when President Roosevelt witnesses a roping contest at Cheyenne, Wyo. The cowboys were so nervou sna dexcited at the prospect of showing their skill before the president of the United States that they scored failure after failure, and, as one disgusted westerner put it, they could not have roped a hitching post if it had been tied. As a rule, however, the contests bring forth some surprising burst of speed and skill, both in horses and men, for the cow pony must take an active part in the roping and must work as surely and swiftly as the man in the saddle.

How the Steers are Tied
The steers which are used as material for the would-be prize winners to practice on are kept in a corral adjoining the arena. When the first contestant is ready a steer is loosed in front of the grand stand the cowboy is given the word "go." When the steer hears the familiar sound of clattering hoofs he usually charges about at breakneck speed. The cowboy swings his lariat and cast at what he deems the proper moment. If he has judged his distance well, the rope settles about the horns of the steer, or mayhap it is thrown so deftly that it encircles one of the flying hoofs, bringing the heavy animal to the ground with a crash.

At the instant the rope settles about the steer the cow pony braces himself for the shock, and, when the cowboy swings out of the saddle and runs for the fallen animal the pony backs against the rope, thus keeping the lariat taunt as a bowstring. If the steer is in a favorable position for a quick tie the cowboy soon has him "hog tied" in approved fashion, so that not a hoff can wiggle. If the tying has been slouchily done the requisite number of points is scored against the competitor. The time of his performance is kept by the judges with stop watches, a dropped handkerchieef being the signal that the cowboy has finished his task.

Keep Cool Under Trying Circumstances
There are many things to conspire against the cowboy in this work. The rope may settle too far over the steer's head instead of catching the animal neatly by the horns. In this case it is next to impossible to throw the animal. Or the steer may fall in such a position that several precious seconds will be wasted in getting the struggling animal where he can be "hog tied." There is always the chance of getting a kick from a heavy steer, but this is regarded lightly by the cowboys, and the "tenderfoot" is amazed to see the boldness with which the puncher dodges in among the flying hoofs. Sometimes a steer when thrown will turn a neat somersault, alighting on the feet, and starting to run again. Others will dash through the wire fence and have to be pulled back by main strength.

At a recent steer roping tournament in Phoenix, Ariz., Charlie Davis, a well known southwestern cattle roper, broke his rope in throwing a steer. The broken end of the rope trailed on the ground as the steer rusned down the arena but Davis urged his horse after the animal and leaning down from the saddle caught the shortened lariat, twisted it around his saddle horn, threw the steer, and then cooly completed the job of "hog tying" the animal.

In some of the contests an air of reality is maintained in making the contestants brand the cattle. Branding irons are at hand, as in the corral, only instead of burning the glesh the cowboys put on what is called the "hair brand," merely slipping the hair from the flank or shoulder and inflicting no pain.

Some of the well known cattle ropers of the wouthwest are Oscar Roberts, Walter Kline, Harry Knight, Logs Morris, Lou Blackaller, and Clay McGonegal, the last two being a prize winning Arizona team that a few months ago defeated a team of ropers from Oklahoma. In Wyoming, Colorado and Montana there are many noted cattle ropers, probably the best known being C. B. Irwin, Duncan Clark, Neil Cxx, Clayton Danks, Will Aberdeen, and Guy Holt.

Several Women Are Experts
The last named won a $200 saddle in a bucking contest in Cheyenne. Hugh McPhee, a Cheyenne cowboy, has made some remarkably low records in roping, and there are many others in Wyoming as well as in other states who are championship possibilites.

Naturally enough such rough sport does not appeal generally to women. Miss Mulhall is not alone in her class, however, as there are several women ranchers in Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona whose feats with the rope at roundup time are matters of local pride. If these women could be induced to enter a contest for the championship, a unique spectacle would be provided for those who are inclined to talk of a "weaker sex." The athletic girl of the modern college who holds basketball or track records would stand little shot in an arena contest with one of these fair ropers from the cattle states.

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