Striding up in his starched long-sleeve shirt, Wranglers and worn out boots, he is the epitome of all that is cowboy.
A large circle of people has gathered around as he starts twirling his rope. The circle gets wider and all eyes are glued on the cowboy. His rope spins out farther and farther around him as he tells the crowd a story.
Suddenly, he makes one last twirl and jumps off the saddle of his trusty paint horse, Hank, to land in the dirt. The crowd cheers as Bryan Schronk takes a bow and thanks everyone for coming out to the show.
Growing up in the small town of Itasca with his mom, dad and brother, the 32-year-old Schronk loves to twirl a rope. Known as “The Osceola Kid” since he was young, Schronk has been trick roping since eighth grade. He learned to trick rope in junior high while working for a man named C.K. Reid. Instead of roping calves, everyday after school Schronk said, “We would sit on the porch, drinkin’ Dr Pepper, and spinnin’ ropes.”
When his dad bought him his horse, Butterfly, Schronk started learning tricks using the horse, including spinning the rope out 60 feet around himself and the horse. He learned a lot just by watching his boss and practiced as often as he could. During his school years he said, “I always had a rope with me, it seems.” He figured out quickly trick roping was more fun, better for entertaining and cheaper than paying entry fees at rodeos.
One of his favorite tricks is called the “Texas Skip,” made famous by Will Rogers, one of Schronk’s heroes. It consists of spinning the rope vertically to the side and jumping back and forth through the loop, just like skipping.
He gained publicity when he starred as a trick roper in Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show in the Fort Worth Stockyards during the summers of his high school years. Around the same time period, he got to rope comedian Roseanne Barr during the grand opening of “Planet Hollywood” in Dallas, and do the opening show for the World Cup Soccer Games in Dallas. He performed the show with another trick roper, J.W. Stoker. They were to run out across the field and then start roping.
“I was a country feller and Fort Worth was as much city as I’d seen,” said Schronk. He was so intrigued by the big crowd that the other roper beat him running across the field.
In 2000, Schronk joined the Navy and served a five-year stint. While serving, he traveled to Hawaii, Australia, the Arabian Gulf and Tonga. Sailors passed the time on the ship by having boxing matches and the occasional talent show. Schronk entered one to trick rope and won the show. His vessel was in Tonga during the birthday celebration of the Sultan. The Navy was asked to march in the parade, but Schronk asked if he could do some trick roping. Afterward he met the Sultan.
Schronk credits a lot of his talent to Hank, a paint horse he has had for four years.
“I sure got lucky with him,” says Schronk.
Hank is an all-around horse that can stand still for trick roping, can do reining, team roping and round up cattle. Recently Schronk was asked by the American Paint Horse Association to be a 2008 Ambassador for their organization. He is an advocate for paint horses and continually wants others to know how good of a breed they are.
Due to his school schedule, Schronk, also a senior Interdisciplinary Agriculture major at Tarleton State University, usually does more entertaining in the summer. This past summer, he performed in the show “Will Rogers Follies” in the Fort Worth Stockyards where he was “under fluorescent lights and got to use a fluorescent rope.” He also entertained the crowds at the Paint Horse World Show in July and has ridden in some trail rides. He practices about five hours a week and always wants to learn new tricks. He says he used to learn a lot of his tricks from Reid, but can now watch videos on YouTube for new ideas.
After graduation in December, he hopes to be able to perform more often.
A member of the no-longer-active Wild West Acts Club, Schronk is not only talented at trick roping, but can also crack a whip. While one person holds a whole newspaper in the air, he can slice it down the middle with his whip until it is nothing but a small shred of paper. Knife-throwing is another hobby that Schronk has learned and continues to perfect.
When asked what he likes most about trick roping, his answer is not about trick roping itself, but about meeting and talking to new people.
“People from the big city and overseas enjoy meeting a cowboy and they just gotta take a picture with you,” says Schronk.
To Schronk, roping is more than just something to do, but a passion.
“Trick roping is an old art that not many practice anymore. I’m trying to keep the West alive,” he says.
For anyone just starting out trick roping or wanting to learn Schronk says, “Practice everyday and don’t get discouraged. You’ll practice on a trick week after week without success, then one day it just clicks and you can do it from then on.”
Bryan Schronk is not only a trick roper, but also an encouragement to those who believe that real cowboys and their values still exist. He loves to entertain the crowd and says, “We are losing those heroes of the West.”
Schronk, who has two children of his own adds, “Kids need those kinds of heroes.