Defending champion Tuf Cooper came into the National Finals Rodeo with a big lead in tie-down roping, but he’s being challenged by five-time world champ Cody Ohl, all-around champ Trevor Brazile, Shane Hanchey and Scott Kourmos. Cooper is trying to become the first tie-down roper to win three straight world titles since his father, rodeo Hall of Famer Roy Cooper, won five in a row from 1980 to 1984.
Success in tie-down roping depends on the teamwork between a cowboy and his horse, and the luck of the draw. A feisty calf that runs fast or kicks hard can foil a roper’s finest effort.
After the calf is given a head start, the cowboy on horseback follows, ropes the calf, then dismounts and runs to the calf. After catching and flanking it, the cowboy ties any three of its legs together using a pigging string he carries in his teeth. 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 run is declared valid if the calf is still tied after six seconds.