Miller described this image of an Indian woman throwing the lasso in an attempt to capture a wild horse as a relatively rare event, in that women more often would have been trying to round up strays rather than the more dangerous activity of capturing the more rambunctious wild horses. Lack of experience most often made the task more difficult, he said, but after several “ineffectual throws” they would often succeed.
One impediment probably was the large saddle that women used, with a high cantel and pommel, as compared to a minimal pad saddle of buffalo hide, perhaps decorated with beadwork and stuffed with horse hair, buffalo hair, or even grass that men used. Thus equipped, the Blackfoot hunters were among the best buffalo hunters, and Comanches became what artist George Catlin called the “most extraordinary horsemen that I have seen yet in all my travels.” (Ewers, 1958, pp. 76 – 79; Catlin, 1841, p. 66)
This picture of an Indian woman throwing the lasso may well be Miller’s field sketch for this subject. It is not as finished as the paintings for the Walters and the Brown commissions, with none of the background detail of vast herds of wild horses and other riders, but captures more of the vigor and action of the moment.
On mount: Throwing the Lasso.
The artist; by descent to Louisa Whyte Norton; [Old Print Shop, New York, NY, 1947]; [Edward Eberstadt and Sons, New York, NY]; present owner