What you need to know about getting a rerun, before you need to know it.
In late February, NFR average title record-breakers Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith were running away with the Lone Star Shootout. Their 9-on-two during the three-head finals of the Open roping in Stephenville, Texas, meant they had all day to win it. Until their final steer took a nose dive before the neck rope came off.
Would you know what to do? By not immediately pulling up—or “declaring” themselves fouled—the pair’s snappy finished run (plus the inevitable 10-second penalty) cost them literally $60,000 and victory by two full seconds. But it shouldn’t have.
They had a rerun coming, if only they’d pulled up. We’ve got the skinny on today’s rules to help you give yourself a fair chance, no matter what the gate man or the steer or the equipment or the flagger does.
Declaring a foul
Brook Bearden, who was flagging that day in Stephenville, hollered at the pair to pull up when he saw the steer go down. But unfortunately, Tomlinson had listened to the guys sitting on the back of the box, yelling that he was out.
“We had a rope barrier and used PRCA rules,” Bearden said. “In the PRCA rulebook, if a steer falls down before the neck rope comes off, the roper is entitled to a rerun—but he has to immediately declare that he wants it. The line judge and I both agreed they got fouled. But they didn’t pull up.”
Clearly, a header who throws like Tomlinson—basically just after the neck rope comes off—is unable, anyway, to pull his horse up at the same time.
“I get it,” said Bearden. “He was already committed to throwing. But even if he’d have stuck it on him and then undallied and said, ‘Whoa, whoa, I think we got fouled.’ Or even if Patrick would have pulled up right there, we’d have given them another.”
Bearden commended the pair for being “a class act” and said they didn’t complain at all.
“Somebody needed to declare,” he said. “We wanted to rerun them. I understand if you’re committed, it’s hard not to throw, but at least don’t turn off. Don’t get a time.”
About a month later, something similar happened at another Open roping to Clay Tryan and Buddy Hawkins, who had a good callback. The steer slipped bad enough to barely break them out, and Hawkins afterward told the flagger they’d been fouled. But then he was shown the rule that they had to immediately declare the foul.
“Declaring” to get a rerun is the most common rule of virtually all associations, from high school rodeos to pro, from an Open to a #7 roping. If you don’t immediately pull up and declare an interference or foul, you accept the run as is. Remember, too, that in the NHSRA, for example, a judge has to declare a rerun before you leave the arena.
If interrupting muscle memory to pull up isn’t easy for the pros, what’s it like for everyone else? Luckily, recreational ropers aren’t vying to be 4-flat in most situations, so it’s even more important for them to remember this rule as they chase steers down the full length of the arena and have a little more time to think. In recreational roping, the most declared call concerns the early or late gate. Definitive nods are debated, but flaggers rarely ever question the claim of bad gate and give the rerun on the spot.
Where review comes in
Having produced ropings for exactly 40 years, Denny Gentry has seen a thing or two. He’ll tell you it doesn’t matter if you spent $4,000 or $50—the rules don’t change. You don’t get more leeway for putting up a lot of dough. But in the World Series, you do get more discretion.
“That’s why the World Series has instant replay and extra judges at the Finale,” said Gentry. “Eight years ago, the WSTR increased its level of review with two field judges and one in the stands. Each run is filmed, and when necessary, a judge will review the replay for final determination.”
The WCRA, too, uses instant replay. What can be reviewed? Whether you got a bad gate. Whether your steer was fouled by the chute or neck rope. Whether your steer went down on his knees or hocks before the scoreline. Even whether your horse broke the barrier with its nose.
What’s more, Bearden also flags for VIP Team Roping Championships and Equine Sports Alliance, using software that allows him to review runs via an app on his phone.
“They video every run, and by the time the steer is in the stripping chute, that run is in my cell phone,” said Bearden. “I can pull it up and rewatch it. It works great when a team comes back and tells us, ‘They have us with a leg on our second steer but we were clean.’ After 300 teams, none of us can remember, but I can pull it right up and watch it. What’s that worth?”
The replay can show just how badly a steer drug, or whether somebody nodded for their cow. Bearden feels like it’s the only chance a flagger has to make a correct crossfire call after a run—that judgment is just too tough to make in real time, thanks to the subtleties of interpretation. Gentry feels a frame-by-frame video review is necessary on that one. Or you could just take note of what the late Hugh Chambliss said about the rule.
“A crossfire is anything I say it is,” the former PRCA Director of Pro Officials and USTRC rulebook creator once told Mike Beers. “If you want to control the outcome, you control it. Don’t put it on me to decide. The only way to make sure I don’t have the call on it? Don’t give it to me.”
Dropped flag not the end
Besides knowing when to declare a foul, there are a couple of other big rules Gentry has seen ropers unclear about most often. The first is the rule in almost every book that states the flag drops when the animal is secure and the ropers are facing each other with a tight rope and feet on the ground. But “tight and straight” isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.
“In the low-number ropings, there are lots of things that go can wrong with it,” Gentry pointed out. “Loping around a face gets headers out of position, or turning up the fence just as the heelers rope comes tight causes straight to be lots of different angles including an ‘L.’ Some headers do a rollback and face on a loose rope. Technically, every team of every ability should be flagged the same way. But flaggers know that during the time some ropers are attempting to get straight, lots of bad things can happen. A flagger might drop a flag if the team gets it pretty close. Flagging on the heels in the #8.5 and #7 roping has helped flaggers, cattle and safety.”
Another thing that breaks that rule is when a heeler’s rope pops off his horn as the header starts to come around.
“The rule says the steer will be secure—and that doesn’t mean ‘secure’ for 0.01 seconds,” Gentry said. “Flaggers who don’t have experience with that will give a time to a team that doesn’t deserve it.”
If your heeling dally pops off your horn or your loop pops off one leg when you dally, you should be flagged out or penalized every time, he said. It’s no different than a hickey on a horn. Ropers will protest that because the flag dropped, they should get the time.
“The fact he dropped the flag means nothing,” Gentry said. “It’s not an official time until the flagger clears the run with his hand. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions in roping: that the run is good if the flag was dropped. But it’s not official until the flagger signals that it is. He might need a video review. There might have been a front leg in the head loop. You were illegal even if he dropped the flag.”
Here’s another biggie: Just because your steer was culled after your run does not grant you the right to a rerun. Big ropings usually have a dedicated sorter at the back, so pleading to the flagger makes no difference.
“The sorter might think your steer will drag next time, or he’ll set up next time,” explained Gentry. “Also, they’re constantly pulling off slower steers and culling too-fast steers; saving some for the short round. You don’t know why they pulled the wraps. All you get is a fair shot at the steer.”
Remember, squat-hopping is not dragging. Checking off is not setting up. A header who rolled a steer and swung it away from the heeler does not constitute a steer that ran up the rope. In these situations, you need to do the opposite of pulling up: Do what Murrah calls “play ’til the whistle.”
If your steer went to the left fence and then came around behind the head horse—maybe the heeler pushed him over there instead of getting to the inside to block him and get a throw—do not pull up and look to the flagger for a rerun. Nor do that on a steer that sets up. Flaggers can read cattle and are watching to see if your horse rated or the steer threw his head up and tried to quit. You’ll get the blame for setting him up if you ran in there on him like a bulldogger and hazer.
“We live in a society with an attitude of ‘Don’t tell me no,’” pointed out Murrah, who said ropers have so many places to go rope now that producers are treating them better than ever. “It used to be that if you were third callback and weren’t in the box, ready, you’d get three calls and turned out. That’s when Arkie Kiehne would quip, ‘Don’t say there’s no added money!’”
But nobody gets turned out anymore. And every flagger considers what Chambliss taught them all to consider, in every scenario: Did the roper have the ‘ability to compete?’
The BFI is the only old-school roping with a “no rerun” policy, hands down. Anywhere else, it pays to know what’s reviewable and whether your roping or rodeo has review. It pays to know when—and how—to pull up. n
Can You Get Two Reruns?
Phillip Murrah says it doesn’t matter how many reruns have been given—if you have one coming, you have one coming. If you get fouled on a rerun, you’re still owed another rerun, so long as you declare.
Good to know
Weird things can happen during a run. Knowing what to do is easy thanks to one universal rule across associations: a steer belongs to you as soon as you cross the scoreline—except if you got a bad gate, the barrier malfunctioned, or your steer fell down, turned around or stopped before the neck rope came off. But even then, you must pull up and declare the foul immediately to get a rerun.
Other rules vary among associations. If you have someone rattle the chute for you at a PRCA rodeo, you’re fined $25; in the WCRA, chute-rattlers will be disqualified. The latter, too, assesses a 10-second penalty for crossfire instead of disqualification. And any USTRC event using a rope barrier follows PRCA rules.
Here are a few good ones to know (paraphrased for brevity).
2.2: Team may be flagged out after the time is announced based on an illegal head or heel catch, a steer not secure or any other factor unclear as the flag dropped.
4.8: If you think you were fouled but have no way to prove it, you must get a time in order to possibly get a rerun.
5.1.2: You can’t argue lack of a rerun, but you may immediately request a video review.
6.6: If the barrier or timer malfunctions either for you or against you, the flagger can offer a rerun or removal of the barrier penalty.
R10.2.3: If the barrier string wasn’t broken or equipment failed to work, but you obviously beat the barrier, the judge can assess a 10-second penalty.
R10.3.21: If your steer failed to break the neck rope and you crossed the scoreline, that steer belongs to you. But if you remained behind the plane of the barrier for approx. 10 seconds, that steer is “sulking” and will be replaced using the Misdraw procedure.
R10.4.2: You could receive a rerun if any arena personnel interferes with your run, as long as you were making a qualified run up to the point of interference and declared yourself at the time of interference.
R11.4.3: Talking with a judge while the team roping is still in progress results in a $250 fine.
126.96.36.199 and 5.1.4: You have 30 seconds after your run to call for an Instant Replay Ruling Challenge (IRRC), by throwing an IRRC flag (located at the gate). If you request a replay of your own run, and the original ruling is upheld, you’ll be charged $500.
5.1.5. Other team ropers may instigate an IRRC on your run by throwing the flag within the 30-second time limit after the completion of your run.
11.5: Possible challenges for video replay include (if you immediately declare) a bad gate, neck-rope foul, barrier foul, or steer falling or stopping before the scoreline, plus you can challenge a legal catch, crossfire call or broken barrier (including if your horse broke it with its nose).