MOSES LAKE — Tomás Garcilazo shares the charro history and his heritage with his audiences as much as he just plain wows crowds across the globe.
He’s one part vaquero, one part charro, one part horse whisperer and 100 percent full of life. The trick roper, who’s originally from Mexico City, has entertained kings and queens across Europe, performed a show at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. He once did a performance for President Bill Clinton at the White House. In 1992, he performed on stage with Linda Ronstadt when she went on tour to support a series of traditional mariachi albums.
The charro was asked to perform at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in 1997 and has been back to perform every year since. His resume includes performances at the legendary rodeos like the Calgary Stampede, the NFR, Houston, San Antonio and the greatest rodeos across the country.
He will be a part of the 74th annual Moses Lake Roundup (Aug. 17-19) for the first time in his 30-year career and the Columbia Basin will be privy to all of the great displays of riding and roping his Mexican heritage has to offer.
“Growing up in Mexico City, I was one of the youngest boys in a big family, and I didn’t get a lot of attention. I used to watch my older brothers and cousins compete in rodeos and saw all the compliments they got,” said Garcilazo, who earned the PRCA Specialty Act of the Year 2007, 2012, 2013 and again in 2015. “So I picked up a rope when I was 4 or 5 and started swinging it.”
Garcilazo has been featured in Cowboys & Indians Magazine, Western Horseman Magazine and the PRCA Wrangler Network, as well as a wide assortment of national and international publications. Unlike the vaquero or the ranchero, the charro is different in culture, etiquette, clothing and tradition, he explained.
His act is a combination of personalities, his and his horses. He has his personality, they have theirs and it’s a matter of blending the two.
“The biggest thing is communication with the animal,” Garcilazo said. “It takes hours and hours of practice. They need time to adjust to something whirling around them and learn their part. I need time to learn their tendencies.”
Garcilazo works with a magnificent palomino, whose registered named is Latigo Dun It (Hollywood). He’s the son of Hollywood Dun It, a celebrated quarter horse and record-setting stallion. Hollywood has his father’s golden mane, flowing 2 feet in length, that verges on the spectacular, like a rock star.
“It takes about a year and a half to train a horse for this type of performance,” he said. “It takes a lot of communication. They let you know through their attitude that they don’t like something and you have to make adjustments. You build this trust. If they don’t feel good about it, then they don’t trust you. It’s like with people, you have to get on the same wavelength.”
Garcilazo and Hollywood work to traditional mariachi music with a variation of different roping techniques combining equestrian balance with a skill level not displayed by the average roper.
To close the show, Garcilazo usually performs the crowd favorite, what he calls the Wedding Ring. Hollywood hits full stride as Garcilazo spins the rope out ?— ?nearly 65 feet of it? —? into a massive lasso, big enough to encircle both the charro and the horse. They sprint with the rope surrounding them in a technique he developed while touring nationally with Broadway’s The Will Rogers Follies in the mid-’90s.
It all verges on the spectacular, the culture, the heritage, but at the end of the day it’s about entertaining people and reminding them of a time when the world moved at a slower pace.
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at email@example.com.