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Rope And Tie

Photo: Jason Butson

Rope and tie is a timed event where a mounted cowboy ropes or “lassos” a calf, leaps from his horse, throws the calf to the ground and ties its legs together.  Roping can be traced back to the working ranches of the American Old West. When calves were sick or injured, cowboys had to rope and immobilize them quickly for treatment. Roping demands a skilled horseman who is accurate with a rope.

The event begins with the cowboy in a starting box secured behind a rope barrier.  The cowboy gives a signal that he is ready and the calf is released from the chute.  The calf receives a head start that is determined by the length of the timed event box and arena. When the calf reaches its advantage point, the barrier is released and the cowboy races out after the calf.

The horse is trained to follow the calf where ever it runs in the arena and to come to a stop as soon as the cowboy throws his rope and catches the calf. The cowboy then dismounts, sprints to the calf and throws it to the ground , a manoeuvre called flanking. If the calf is not standing when the cowboy reaches it, he must allow the calf to get back on its feet before flanking it. After the calf is flanked, the roper ties any three legs together with a pigging string — a short, looped rope he clenches in his teeth during the run.

While the cowboy is doing all that, his horse must pull back hard enough to keep tension on the rope but not so hard as to drag the calf.

When the roper finishes tying the calf, he throws his hands in the air as a signal that the run is completed. The roper then remounts his horse, rides forward to create slack in the rope and waits three seconds to see if the calf remains tied.


If you think that sounds simple, try roping a stationary object when you are standing on the ground — if you can do that, you might be ready to try to rope a running steer whilst  on a galloping horse!


Rope and tie is a timed event with the fastest time winning.  Time starts from the time the barrier is released and ends when the cowboy throws his hands in the air to indicate the calf is tied.

If the roper breaks the barrier before the calf reaches its head start, the cowboy is given a 10-second penalty.

If the calf kicks free within 3 seconds of being tied, the roper is disqualified.

A cowboy will also be disqualified  if the calf is jerked off its feet when caught or if the horse drags the calf too far once it is caught.

If a calf is “jerked down” or substantially dragged, the cowboy is also fined!