Labor Day Weekend Cactus Contest

We haven’t had a contest in a really long time, but we are ready for one now.

If you choose the enter this contest, you are entering for a chance to win a Cactus Ropes’ cap autographed by none other than Trevor Brazile.  The contest will conclude midnight CST, on September 3, 2012.  We will draw for our winner on Tuesday, September 4.   Increase your chances for winning by taking advantage of all the ways to enter.

There are four ways to enter:

  1. Like “Cactus Ropes” on Facebook—worth 1 entry.
  2. Follow “Cactus Ropes” on Twitter—worth 5 entries.
  3. Tweet about this contest—worth 2 entries.
  4. Leave a comment on this blog telling us about your weekend plans—worth 2 entries.

We’ll pick a winner after the weekend!  Everyone have a safe holiday weekend and if you’re roping, good luck in the arena!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Cactus Ropes Announces Nitro Sweepstakes Winner

PLEASANTON, Texas—August 29, 2012— When Winn Cox tried out his friend’s Cactus Nitro rope, he had no idea it would result in the opportunity to rope for two days with Cesar de la Cruz.  “I liked that rope so much that I went out and bought some of my own.  One of those ropes happened to have a winning tail tag for the Nitro contest!”

The “Let’s Go Rope with Cesar” contest was created to thank customers who are using the new Nitro rope that Cactus developed in conjunction with Cesar de la Cruz.  Ropes with specially marked tail tags were distributed to retailers, and customers submitted the winning tags to enter a drawing for prizes.

The contest grand prize was the opportunity to rope with Cesar for two days at an upcoming filming and clinic session for Total Team Roping (  Winn Cox, an insurance agent in Seguin, Texas, will get to spend those days learning tips from de la Cruz and the other Total Team Roping members, including Clay O’Brien Cooper and Jake Barnes.  “I’m looking forward to roping with someone with a ‘younger style’ and getting some recommendations from Cesar on improving my technique and making things easier for my heelers,” states Cox. “After I bought my first Nitro, I haven’t used anything else.  I really appreciate that Cactus supports the people who use their products and rope on the weekends.”

Other contest prizes included boxes of Nitro ropes that were won by Isaac Hill of Waxahachie, TX and Garrett Stewart of West Jordan, UT.  For more information on the Nitro and other happenings at Cactus Ropes, please visit

More about Cactus Ropes

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.


Practicing vs. Roping (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I love to rope, and when I just rope, it’s a lot of fun. To me, that’s making three to six runs on a couple of horses. Flank and tie some, but not enough to get sore. Practicing is something totally different.

Practice needs to be strategically planned to be effective. You need to be smart enough to know what you need to practice on. Professional athletes focus on overcoming their weaknesses. If you’re not sure of your weaknesses, find someone knowledgeable that can help you pinpoint those areas.

Practice is not necessarily fun, but I’ve made myself love it. When I walk into my arena to practice, I visualize that I’m punching a time clock. To feel like I’ve really practiced, I want to wear out a couple of ropes and a pigging string. I have calluses on my hands from tying and if I practice to my standards, I’ll be sore for a few days.

To practice like that, it takes a lot of horses and calves. Don’t go run twenty or thirty head of calves on your horse. That’s not practice and you’ll trash your horse.

If you have trouble catching, get a breakaway and learn to catch like that. You can do a lot of groundwork without a horse, though it does take a lot of calves. Making runs is fun, but look at like running a business. Keep your strengths sharp, but focus on your weaknesses and work at that. Be strategic and have a thought out plan for your practice.

Congratulations to Cory Solomon for winning Calgary and $100,000. He’s a great young man who ropes well and has a bright future ahead of him.

Until next time, God bless, and I’ll see you down the line. If there’s something you would like me to write about, please send me an email at


Cactus Ropes Unveils New Website

Cactus Ropes is pleased to announce a brand new website at The site features updated graphics, content and shopping options.

“The new site looks fantastic, but more importantly, it has improved tools and benefits for our fans and customers,” states Jan Johnson, Director of Marketing. “We have incorporated great features like videos on each rope page, an improved dealer locator, and a forthcoming new option that allows instant ropes purchases from our retailers directly through our website portal.”

The new website will serve as a hub for breaking news, educational newsletters and the regular contests offered through the Cactus Ropes social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

More about Cactus Ropes

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.


Eat to Live (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

A few months ago when I asked my Facebook fans for article ideas; I was overwhelmed with the requests for nutrition and fitness tips.  If you are anything like me, I like to formulate a plan before I go into something.   I want to get the full benefit from my training.  I think it is very important that everyone in a family buys into the system as a team.  That being said, I have two little boys: six and eight, and a baby girl.  I don’t think it would be fair to expect the same from them as I do myself.  What I try to do with them, as in other areas of their lives, is to encourage them to make wise choices.  Just as they are learning to read and write in school, they also need to learn to live healthy lifestyles.

So many people ask me what foods I eat to stay healthy.  I try to keep it as simple as possible.

  1. No White Starches
  2. No Sugar
  3. No Fried Foods
  4. No Dairy

Now that being said, when I am on the road and traveling all over United States and Canada, I have found that there are 3 keys to this…

1)     Being prepared.

We always try to have food packed and even prepared ahead of time, so we are never stuck without options.

2)     Make the best choice available.

Oftentimes, when I fly somewhere, I pack some food and protein.  But you can always find something to eat, even at McDonald’s.  If all else fails, go bunless.  You may just have to pay a little more to fill up.

3)     Never let yourself get too hungry.

It is better to eat something that is not the best choice than to not eat at all.  I have learned this the hard way.  You must have fuel to compete and be at the top of your game.  I try to eat anywhere from four to six meals a day.  You can ruin your metabolism by skipping meals.  Most people choose to skip meals when they are trying to lose weight.  Your body is forced to eat up muscle first and store fat in a survival instinct, defeating the purpose.

Have you noticed that I have not used the word “diet” at all in this entry?   That is because the first three letters in the word “diet” spell “die.”   That is exactly opposite what we are trying to do and that is to live to our full potential.  We must eat to live, not live to eat.


My Heroes (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

This month, I was struggling with writer’s block and asked for ideas on my Facebook page. The response was overwhelming and one of the suggestions was to write about my heroes.

One of my biggest heroes growing up was my grandfather. Most of us love John Wayne, the cowboy. Well, my grandfather was that cowboy in real life. When I was young and out of school during the summers, I got to spend a lot of time with him on the ranch. I would ask him to tell me stories and he would tell me about some wild bull roping or doctoring a yearling with screwworms. He always had a story about a wild wreck they got into. That was great entertainment for me because the stories were true and my grandfather was larger than life.

Poppa died two days before I qualified for my first NFR in 1995. That was very hard for me, but even harder for my dad. My dad had been in the pasture with him since he was a little boy. They were best friends and so in tune with each other they would finish each other’s sentences. They were like an extension of each other.

I was looking at photo of my grandfather yesterday and it brought back to me what a great man he was. He didn’t try to be cool, he didn’t have to try, he just was. He was soft spoken, but there was never any doubt he could put any situation right, if necessary. All his dealings were done by handshake.

My grandfather and our life on the ranch, inspired my latest venture. Jennifer and I have partnered with Carroll Original Wear and designed a line of jackets, vests, chaps and other functional clothing for ranch work. STS Ranch Wear will be available in retail stores by September 1st and we’re finding that major farm and western stores are excited to carry it.

The biggest life lesson I learned from my grandfather is to be real and true to yourself. Be who you are and proud of that. That’s what I want to teach my children. You don’t have to be a cowboy in my family, but whatever they choose to do, I want them to have those traits. That’s what was passed down to me.

Until next time, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line. If there’s something you would like me to write about, drop me an email at


Are You All In? (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

The other day, I had to go to Amarillo to the vet, get my horse shod, and do some other errands. My mom happened to have a doctor appointment at the same time so we arranged our schedules to go together. That gave us two hours, each way, to visit and spend some time together.

I won’t say I’m a favorite, but I am the last of five and the baby of the babies. So there’s not much I can do wrong in my mother’s eyes. When we get a chance to spend time one-on-one, it usually doesn’t take long for the conversation to get deep. However, I was more than surprised by what she had to say:

“When you were about 17 and decided you wanted to rope, I’ve never seen anyone, in my lifetime, who was as committed and determined once you knew what you wanted. You weren’t going to accept anything but the best from yourself. You were working towards a world championship and weren’t like a kid anymore. Once you had that goal, you went at it like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

“Since winning the world in ’08, I know you’ve had surgeries and health problems, but you just haven’t roped the same. You’ve got the ranch, the cattle business, your bull business and all your other businesses. If you’re going to rope, you better make it your top priority and quit splitting time with all these other things.”

Now I’m usually the one who’s always pumping everyone up and here my mom’s telling me if I’m going to do it, I better be all in. You can’t split a career in half and see how it works. It got me to thinking how I’ve been cheating myself. When you’re not healthy, it’s easy to spend time doing other things.

The fact is I’ve never had a “Plan B.” I’ve been asked over and over what my plans were if roping didn’t work out. I’ve never given myself an out—I just don’t have a Plan B. One thing I can’t deal with, is not performing to the best of my ability. That’s just not acceptable to me.

My mom then said, “You’ve always been someone who had something to prove, more to yourself than anyone. Now, you do have something to prove because everyone thinks you’re too old, too broke down, you work out too much. Now, you have something to prove.”

I’ve always been a student of the game and a fan of any success story. I like to hear how the athletic brain works and how to deal with pressure. I wrote down a quote one day that said, “Some people go to seminars, read books, or listen to tapes on how to be successful and how to win. Other people simply win.”  Not to say you can’t learn something, but the way I win is the way I win. What works for a pro basketball player may not work for me.

This conversation with my mother means a lot, especially if you know our relationship. She was not calling me out, she was revving me up. She knows me and how I work. There’s no greater love for us than God, but a mother’s love is a close second. I’m sorrowful for people who don’t have that relationship with their mother. I do and I’ve been blessed with a wife that has that special love and bond with our children.

My dad’s advice is infrequent and important. He’s like E.F. Hutton—when he speaks, I’m listening. But for my mom to call me out, so to speak, was so unusual it caught me by surprise. The timing was perfect and exactly what I needed to hear. She more or less asked me, “Are you all in?”

“Yes, Mom; yes, I am.”

If there’s anything you would like me to write about, please send me an email at Until next month, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line.


Cactus Ropes Introduces the Nitro

PLEASANTON, Texas—April 2, 2012— Cactus Ropes has launched a new rope in conjunction with endorsee Cesar de la Cruz.  The neon green Nitro is available as both a head rope and a heel rope.

Nitro | Cesar de la Cruz | Cactus Ropes: The Official Rope of the PRCA

Nitro | Cesar de la Cruz | Cactus Ropes: The Official Rope of the PRCA

“If I were to sum up this rope, I would say it offers heavy-bodied performance in a small, fast package,” states Barry Berg of Cactus Ropes.  Featuring four blended strands, the Nitro offers increased tip weight for swing and timing, as well as maximum body for accuracy.

Cesar de la Cruz states, “It’s fast and balanced with the action of a rope that’s smaller in diameter, but it has enough body to hold its shape and give me great tip control when I place my loop.”  Regarding the rope’s neon green color, de la Cruz explains, “I’m a big visual guy.  I like to see the steer jump into my loop.  The Nitro practically glows in the dark, so it’s great in all lighting conditions.”

When he joined the Cactus team earlier in 2012, de la Cruz wanted a specific rope to meet his needs.  He began work with Barry Berg to develop and test ropes that matched his vision.  “One of the things I wanted was durability.  I like a rope that will last an entire roping, and more,” states de la Cruz. “Nitro is tough.  It can take more runs because it holds the horn so well.”

Nitro’s performance is already being seen in the team roping arena.  Jake Long was swinging its distinctive green loop when he recently won the YMBL Championship Rodeo in Beaumont, Texas.  The Nitro is now available at your favorite roping retailer.  Additional information can also be found at

More about Cactus Ropes

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.


Ride a Solid Horse (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Recently, I was asked why some people progress faster than others when learning to rope. There can be number of reasons, but usually the most obvious is the horse they’re riding. It’s pretty common to see a youngster or novice show up at a school riding a young horse that doesn’t know any more than they do. This is the worst possible scenario for learning and a recipe for disaster. Neither will enjoy it and it’s impossible to learn and teach a horse when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Sometimes, novice ropers show up to a school with high-powered $20,000 horses. Riding an open caliber, expensive horse will not make you learn any faster. In fact, the horse will more than likely be ruined and the kid will get discouraged. I wouldn’t let my boys learn on Destiny. First, she would run out from under them, and if they happened to stay on, she would probably throw them over her head when she stopped. You wouldn’t dream of teaching your kid to drive in a Ferrari.

Recently, at one of my schools, there was a young man riding one of the best little horses I’ve ever seen. He didn’t stand out as a kid who had grown up with a rope in his hand. But, by the second day, he hadn’t missed a calf and it was obvious to me that a lot of it was due to his horse. This horse couldn’t necessarily run like the wind, but he just did everything right for him. In fact, he reminded me a lot of the horse I rode at the finals. This horse scored like a post and when he dropped his hand, the horse took off. He was just a great solid little horse and this is exactly what you’re looking for as a parent or novice.

You need an older horse to learn on that will go do the same thing every time. When riding a solid horse, you will have more fun, and the more fun you have, the better you will get. I’ve bought more than one horse in my career that was over 21 and paid pretty big money for them. If you take good care of them, they’ll last as good as a young horse, sometimes better.

Find someone you trust in this business to help you find this kind of horse. People think they can’t afford this kind of horse when in reality there are horses getting older every day that need a good home.

Until next time, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line. If there’s anything you would like me to write about, drop me an email at


Cesar de la Cruz Joins Cactus Ropes

PLEASANTON, Texas—Feb. 22, 2012— Cesar de la Cruz has joined the roster of professional cowboys representing Cactus Ropes, stating “I’m honored to be part of this group, and I’m looking forward to working with the Cactus team on some exciting projects this year.”

Highlights from de la Cruz’s 2011 professional season include wins at the Justin Boots Championships, Pendleton Round-Up, Omak Stampede, Rodeo Austin, Laughlin River Stampede and the Missoula Stampede.  He topped off the competitive season with his sixth qualification at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“Cesar is an awesome addition to our team,” states Barry Berg of Cactus Ropes.  “He’s a great roper and an innovative thinker.   It’s been very refreshing to share ideas with him about ropes that will help our customers perform at higher levels.”

A heeler from Marana, Arizona, de la Cruz is a third generation NFR qualifier, following in the footsteps of his team roping grandfather, Vic Aros.  Cesar is married to Arena de la Cruz, who was the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Women’s All-Around Champion in 2008.  Their son Camilo is two years old.

Cesar de la Cruz, Cactus Ropes: The Official Ropes of the PRCA

Cesar de la Cruz, Cactus Ropes: The Official Ropes of the PRCA: Photo Credit: Lone Wolf Photos

More about Cactus Ropes

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.