Tie-down roping was born on the ranches of the Old West. Sick calves had to be roped and tied down for medical treatment. Roping and tying down the calves was also used at branding time.
Today, success in tie-down roping depends largely on the teamwork between a cowboy and his horse. The luck of the draw is also a factor. A feisty calf that runs fast or kicks hard can foil a roper's finest effort.
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" that he clenches in his teeth throughout the run. If the calf is not standing when the contestant reaches it, the cowboy must allow the animal to stand, then flank it.
When the cowboy completes his tie, he throws his hands in the air as a signal to the judge. He then remounts his horse and allows the rope to become slack. The roper is disqualified if the calf kicks free within 6 seconds.
As with any timed event, a 10-second penalty is added if the tie-down roper breaks the barrier at the beginning of the run.
-- Courtesy of the PRCA