What’s going on here? Why does it look like the calf is being pulled off stage by a vaudeville hook a la The Muppet Show? The calf has actually just been flipped by the cowboy and the rope is tied off to his horse, which is trained to keep the rope taut while the cowboy works. Once the calf is on the ground, the cowboy then ties its legs together – as seen below:
This is calf roping. Unlike bull riding and bronco busting, calf roping requires a certain amount of finesse and artistry to go along with brute strength and endurance.
The event begins with the rider chasing a calf into the arena. He must rope that calf, drop from his horse while still at full gallop, catch the calf and flip it, and finally tie its legs. After that, the rider must wait six seconds to make sure his knot holds, and then he receives his time.
So many things have to go right for a rider to get the best time; calf roping may be one of the most challenging events at the rodeo.