Tie-down roping, formerly known as calf roping is the classic old west ranch chore. It is now one of the most competitive of rodeo events. Tie-down ropers compete against each other and the clock for the prize money.
Like the steer wrestlers and team ropers, tie-down ropers start in the box ready to compete. The calf is released and the cowboy must rope it as quickly as possible. As soon as a catch is made the cowboy dismounts, sprints to the calf and tosses it on its side, which is called flanking. With a small rope known as a pigging string, usually held in the cowboy's teeth, any three of the calf's legs are tied securely. Time stops when the cowboy throws up his hands.
After the tie, the roper remounts his horse, puts slack in his rope and waits 6 seconds for the calf to struggle free. If it does, the cowboy receives a no time and is effectively disqualified from the round. If the calf remains tied the cowboy receives his time. As in the other timed events, if the roper breaks the barrier he receives a 10 second penalty added to his time.
Tie-down roping requires timing, speed, agility, and strength. It also requires a highly trained horse. Horses in the tie-down roping play a major role in the success of the competitor. Horses are taught to know when to start walking backward thereby keeping the rope taught and allowing the cowboy to do their work on the other end. It is truly amazing to watch as cowboy and horse compete together in this modern sporting event.