Rope artist bringing world-class act to Garden City.

6/4/2014

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Rodeo fans are in for a treat at this year's Beef Empire Days Rodeo, where The Charro Tomas Garcilazo will perform world-class roping and horsemanship skills.

Garcilazo, of Fontana, Calif., begins his act with an Azteca horse named Cholo, a cross between an Andalusian and quarter horse.

"This horse has a lot of dressage moves, which is inside pass, lead changing, and he does marching, the Spanish walk, and then he does the Passage," Garcilazo said.

Passage, which rhymes with massage, consists of forward motion. Garcilazo said Cholo also performs what is known as piaffe, where the horse trots in place.

"So he's kind of bouncing. And then he does some tricks — he bows, and then he does sitting down, he crawls on his knees," Garcilazo said.

As he and Cholo demonstrated some of the horse's moves Wednesday afternoon, Garcilazo used clicking noises to communicate moves for the horse to perform.

"The noises are my cues so I will cue them like that, or I will tap his leg when I want him to bow," Garcilazo said.

During his act, Garcilazo continues with his quarter horse named Hollywood, the horse that helps Garcilazo demonstrate his roping skills.

"It's a non-stop routine with the rope," he said.

The horse lopes in a circle, and Garcilazo uses the reins to bring him to the center of the arena. Then the horse stops, backs up, changes direction, and spins in both directions, all while Garcilazo ropes.

For the grand finale, Garcilazo stands on Hollywood and ropes. He builds a big loop, called a "wedding ring," that covers the entire horse and then he and Hollywood make a lap around the arena as Garcilazo keeps the big loop going.

Garcilazo is a native of Mexico City, Mexico, where he began learning Floreo de Reata (rope artistry) at a very early age through his mother's side of the family. This skill is performed by Charros. Garcilazo is a third generation Charro.

"Then I decided to put those skills together in a specialty act," Garcilazo said, as Cholo bent his head down toward his shirt pocket. "He smells something — pumpkin seeds."

Garcilazo has been performing professionally since 1997, and has taken his act all over the world, including performances at Linda Ronstadt's Spanish-speaking concerts in the early 1990s.

"And then after that one, I got involved in some auditions to become part of the cast of the Will Rogers Follies, which was a Broadway Musical that won six Tony awards," Garcilazo said.

He also toured with that show, which he said was one of the highlights of his career.

"I went to all the major cities and got the opportunity to go to the White House twice," he said.

He has performed his act in Canada, Holland, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy.

Since 1998, Garcilazo has been a part of the PRCA rodeo, which takes him all over the United States. He has won the Specialty Act of the Year three times, he said — once in 2007, and most recently in 2012 and 2013.

He pulled his horse trailer into the Finney County Fairgrounds on Wednesday afternoon and said it is his first time visiting Garden City.

"This is a really nice experience to have a chance to travel with your own horses and to go around the different states and meet different people," Garcilazo said.

According to his website, www.tomasgarcilazo.com, countless hours of training, discipline and patience become apparent during his shows, as each horse displays its own unique abilities and talents.

Garcilazo will entertain each night of the Beef Empire Days Rodeo, which takes place at 7 p.m. at the Finney County Fairgrounds rodeo arena today through Saturday.

General admission tickets are $7, reserved benchback seats are $10 and reserved bucket seats are $12. Call 866-294-BEEF to buy tickets or purchase them at the gate. For more information, visit BeefEmpireDaysRodeo.com.

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