Truly a team effort, tie down roping demands split-second timing as the cowboy and his horse race against the clock and other competitors to catch and tie a calf. The calf must cross the scoreline before the rider breaks the barrier (a rope across the chute) or a ten-second penalty is added to his score. After roping the calf, the cowboy runs down the rope and throws the animal by hand. More time is lost if the calf is already down when the roper reaches the animal because the calf must be up (standing) before the cowboy may throw it down. Any three legs of the calf must be tied with a piggin’ string. The tie must hold for six seconds or the roper is disqualified.
The horse which works with a calf roper must be able to judge the speed of the calf, be able to stop on cue in a single stride, and then hold the rope taut when the roper runs to his calf. Finding a horse that can be trained to do all this well is a difficult task.