If you’re new to team roping, these roping terms will help you get to know more about an exciting sport with a rich history. Learn the roping terms below before you attend your next rodeo, and it will help you understand what cowboys in the crowd and the ring are talking about.
Breaking the Barrier: The “barrier” is a rope that’s stretched across the roping box and attached to another rope that’s tied around the calf’s neck.
Before the horse and rider leave the roping box, the calf has to “break the barrier.” This gives the calf a head start. If the rider doesn’t allow the calf to break the barrier and get their head start, they are penalized 10 seconds.
Header: In team roping events, the header is the person who ropes the head of the steer.
Heeler: The heeler is responsible for roping the hind legs of the steer.
Cross Fire: The heeler has to wait until the header has succeeded in roping and redirecting the steer. Otherwise, the entire team is disqualified. If the legs are roped first, it is considered a cross fire.
Dally: The dally is when the header catches the steer, then wraps the rope around its saddle horn. This is a key move that must be executed properly, or else it could severely injure the header’s fingers or hand.
Dragger: This is the term used to describe a steer that drags its hind legs.
Eliminator: This is the term used to describe a steer that proves extremely difficult to rope and pushes the team close to elimination.
Fishing: When the roper misses the first throw but ends up catching the steer either by accident or by flipping the rope precisely, it’s called fishing.
Flagman: The flagman is the event official who signals the end of the round.
Flanking: This calf-roping term describes how riders use their right hand to grab the flank of the calf and pull on the rope with their left hand, flipping the calf on its side in order to tie three legs together.
Jerk Down: A jerk down is when a calf is roped, but then flipped over backward. This is a penalty that warrants disqualification.
Legged: This is when the heeler manages to rope only one of the hind legs and the team is charged with a 5-second penalty.
Off Side: This is the horse’s right side.
Piggin’ String: This is the smaller, shorter rope used to tie the calf’s feet together.
Top Notch: This is when the roper only catches the top of the calf’s head and the rope doesn’t completely go around the nose.
Had you ever heard these roping terms before? If not, now you’ll be prepared the next time you go to a roping event.