Like bronc riding, tie down roping is an event born on the ranches of the Old West. Sick calves were roped and tied down for medical treatment. Today, success in tie down roping depends largely on the teamwork between a cowboy and his horse. After the calf is given a head start, horse and rider give chase. The contestant ropes the calf, then dismounts and runs to the animal.
After catching and flanking the calf, the cowboy ties any three of the animal’s legs together using a “pigging string” he carries in his teeth until needed. If the calf is not standing when the contestant reaches it, the cowboy must allow the animal to stand. When the cowboy completes his tie, he throws his hands in the air as a signal to the judge. He then remounts and allows the rope to become slack.
The run is declared invalid if the calf kicks free within six seconds. As with any timed event, a 10-second penalty is added if the roper does not allow the calf the proper head start – this is known as “breaking the barrier.”