Goat tying is an exciting rodeo event most commonly displayed in amateur and junior level rodeos. Similar to calf roping, the object of goat tying is to be the fasted competitor to tie the legs of a goat with a rope, after dismounting from a horse. Goat tying is a sport that tends to attract female participants as well as male.


Competitive rodeo sports either originated as a necessary part of life on the ranch which was created into something new, or simply practicing the original skills in a competitive environment. Ranchers in the Old West learned many practices and techniques from the Spanish vaqueros, who has been ranching the land far before westward expansion. The ranchers learned to catch and restrain animals, whether it was for sorting, branding or to do medical work.

The ranchers began to compete informally, as friendly competition for bets and bragging rights. As the competitions began to be more organized, rodeo was born. Rodeos have long been a tradition in state and county fairs. The rodeos bring the skills of the ranch to the general population in exciting competitions.

Goat Tying Competition

Goat tying begins as a mounted sport. The starting line is typically 100 feet away from the goat. The goat is tethered to a pole by a 10-foot rope. When the timer begins, the rider races towards the goat on horseback. The rider then dismounts the horse. In beginner levels, typically the horse will be at a full-stop, but as the skill level increases, the rider dismounts while the horse is in the midst of a sliding stop. Once the roper reaches the goat, he/she must flip the goat and tie 3 of its 4 legs together. The faster competitor to complete the task is declared the winner.

If the contestant reaches the goat and the goat is not standing on all four feet, the goat must first return to an upright position, then be flipped and tied. Goats must be dropped without the roper showing unnecessary roughness.

Rules and Regulations

The tether rope measures 10 feet and can be made of natural or synthetic fibers. The rope is tied to a metal stake with an eye for tying the rope. The string to tie the rope must either be goat tying string or pigging string. Typically, girls use goat-tying string and boys use pigging string, and in some divisions, boys must use pigging string.

In the roper is too rough with the goat, he/she will be disqualified. If the horse comes in contact with either the rope or the goat before the rider dismounts, a 10 second penalty is added. The rider must come to a stop before reaching the goat to avoid this. The roper is allowed two goat tying or pigging strings in the case that he/she should need another.

The timer stops when the contestant raises both arms in the air. The roper is not allowed to touch the goat after that point. In order for the score to qualify, the goat’s leg cannot uncross of be loosened from the string for the duration of 5 seconds. The tie around the goat’s legs must be legal and approved. Approved knots include one or more wraps, a half hitch, a hooey or a knot. Should any contestant lose a hat before entering the arena, 10 seconds are added to the time.

Penalties can be detrimental in goat tying as fast times in goat tying are anywhere from 6 to 9 seconds. A penalty of second place will often make it impossible for the contestant to win so ropers must be cautious and precise when goat tying.


Tying a goat string around the legs of a moving goat and securing the string for a duration of time can be a challenge. As a result, ropers must practice this skill again and again on both dummies and live goats. A true roper learns how to be precise and speedy without seeming frantic.

Good tying strategy includes remaining calm through the tie. If the roper keeps his/her head down, it will be easier to get the rope around the bones of the legs. If the rope is tied solely around the goat’s feet, it is more likely to become loosened. Additionally, the roper’s movements should be quick, but not every joint should be moving. Movements can be quick without involving the entire body, which can distract from the tying motion.

There are two different techniques for flanking the goat. Flanking is the term used to describe throwing the goat. The two accepted goat tying flanking techniques are stuffing and pinning. Stuffing is the term used for gathering the legs of the goat in the air while pinning implies that the legs are gathered from the ground.

The two techniques actually originated based upon the availability of goats. In the northern rodeo states, goats were not quite as readily available. Goat tying girls practiced their skills on calves. Because calves are so much larger than goats, they cannot by stuffed. The northern girls learned to pin and then tie the legs.

In pinning, contestants use their legs and knee to pin the body of the goat. Typically the pinner will hold the shoulder of the goat with his/her knee to apply pressure, immobilizing the front leg. The pinner puts his/her left hand on the goat’s forearm and the right hand in the fold on skin in the goat’s flank. Using the hips, the rider will roll the hips to pop the goat’s legs out. Finally, the goat is pinned and three legs should be accessible for a quick tie.

Stuffing is another method of flanking, although most goat-tying enthusiasts agree that the stuffing method is not as quick as the pinning. In the stuff, the contestant will pick up the goat and gather the legs in the air. The left hand will putt in the back legs white the right takes the front. When the goat hits the ground, three legs should be gathered for a quick tie. This method can be less efficient because the goat must be lifted higher and if any of the legs are not collected in the air, it takes more time to collect a leg, virtually disqualifying that contestant.

Goat tying is an exciting and fast-paced sport. It helps involved young females in rodeo skills. The goat-tiers must be excellent in horsemanship, as it takes a special relationship with a horse in order for that horse to slide stop and allow the rider to jump off in one fluid motion. The rider must be brave, efficient and quick to be a goat tying champion.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.