Award-winning rope artist and horse trainer making 1st trip to Steamboat Rodeo | SteamboatToday.com

Award-winning rope artist and horse trainer making 1st trip to Steamboat Rodeo

Ben Ingersoll

— If one thing in rodeo is consistent, it's the inconsistency of where a cowboy or entertainer will end up from night to night, weekend to weekend.

A performer may find himself or herself in Kansas one night, South Dakota the next, with another trip to eastern Oregon right around the corner.

He might find himself on a 10-hour trek from Amarillo, Texas, to a tiny mountain town in Northwest Colorado, the kind of long haul master rope artist and horse trainer Tomas Garcilazo made all day Thursday.

Garcilazo is in town, of course, to showcase his skills and entertain Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series patrons this weekend and next. But as one of the most sought-after specialty acts in the world, his inaugural journey to Brent Romick Rodeo Arena likely never would have happened had local rodeo buff Joe Bishop not tracked Garcilazo down.

It's the type of recruiting — the wrangling of entertaining talent — that Bishop goes after year after year, fully furnishing an outside act out of his own pocket for the Steamboat series.

"I asked my cousin, who is a rodeo producer, about him," Bishop said. "I asked how to get ahold of Tomas. I called Tomas in California last summer and he said ‘yes.’"

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Even as a week-old father, Garcilazo admittedly rarely ever turns down an offer to hit the road and share his lifelong love and dedication to professional rodeo.

His story to the present is about as well traveled as one can hear, even among the rodeo crowd.

A native of Mexico City, Garcilazo grew up in a family of Charros — Mexican cowboys — on his mother's side. Competition was his first drive, following in the footsteps of uncles and cousins. It was here he picked up the rope artistry and horsemanship that made him arguably one of the best unique entertainers coast to coast.

But galloping around arenas with a rope in tow wouldn't come until much later in Garcilazo's professional life. After acting in Mexican rodeos, Garcilazo was picked to perform on stage in Linda Ronstadt's renown "Canciones de Mi Padre" theater show.

From there, it was on to Broadway, auditioning among thousands across the states in Hollywood for showtime slots.

"I got my debut there in Broadway," Garcilazo said. "The audition for me was to be on the national tour, a two-year tour in 56 cities in 48 states. It was first class all over the country in the best theaters."

The Broadway stint ended up lasting from 1992 to 1995 before an international opportunity popped up — in the Buffalo Bill's Wild West show at Disneyland Paris, of all places.

As a horse trainer, Garcilazo was allowed to do horse shows as a side gig to Disney. Shawn Davis, the National Finals Rodeo general manager and hall of famer, was in Paris, handing out awards to European Rodeo Cowboy Association members, when Garcilazo was called upon to perform for the big timer from Las Vegas

"I said, 'Well, for you and whoever, I'll do it,'" Garcilazo said, again never one to turn down an opportunity.

It also was an open door, he explained, his ticket back to the states, this time on the sport's pinnacle stage as a Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association member.

Davis invited Garcilazo to be a part of the NFR in Las Vegas the following year — 1997 — a career he has enjoyed for 17 years running. He started out with three openings out of 10 in Vegas, but it wasn't for another decade before Garcilazo's roping and horsemanship was recognized as PRCA's best.

In 2007, he won his first PRCA Specialty Act of the Year and currently is the reigning award winner, collecting the recognition in 2012 and again last year.

But even so — as perhaps the best there is on American soil — Garcilazo said it's not about getting to the top, it's about maintaining that position.

"It's a privilege and an honor," he said. "What I display, they see the skill and the talent, but they don't see anything else but what you do. I don't see any politics or jealousy or anything. They just judge talent."

And he has plenty of it, performing his acts at Romick Arena on Friday night and again Saturday as well as next weekend's two-night event.

He begins by showing off his two horse's skills, which segues into the roping portion. With a non-stop, seven-minute routine, Garcilazo displays his routine either on horseback or standing on top of the horse with a continuous rope loop, sometimes encircling the entire arena, known as the Wedding Ring.

From Steamboat, it's off to Oregon, Garcilazo said, another long drive with another unique act in some other town's rodeo grounds.

"I just do what I love and do what I'm doing," he said. "I get to see and meet people all over the country. And all over the world."

The rodeo runs from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. both weekends.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll