What Is the Second Rope on a Bull For?

By Mary Schimenz Hopkins

Rodeo fans know that a bull rider wraps his hand in his rope then nods for the chute to open. What confuses some people is the other rope, the strap wrapped around the bull right in front of his flanks.

Function

The flank strap is a length of padded rope. Its purpose is to encourage the bull to kick. Without the annoying flank strap, the bull would run around the arena, not remain in one area trying to rid himself of the cowboy and flank strap.

How It's Used

The flank strap is slipped onto the bull when it enters the alley to the bucking chute. The slack is taken out of it just prior to the ride, but it's not pulled so tight as to injure the animal and is removed immediately after the ride.

Misconceptions

Champion bucking bulls are worth more than $50,000.

Bull riding novices sometimes think the flank strap is tied around the bull's genitals. This would adversely affect the animal's performance and result in injury. Many champion bucking bulls are worth more than $50,000. Stock contractors don't risk injury to their investments.

Instinct

When a bull is attacked, the predator strikes at the bull's flank to disable it. This natural instinct is the reason the flank strap is so successful at encouraging the bulls to buck higher.

Bull Rope

The rider hangs onto the front, or bull rope, during his ride. A bell is attached at the bottom of the rope for weight so the bull rope falls off with the cowboy or when he releases the bull rope.

References

About the Author

Mary Schimenz Hopkins has freelanced for more than 20 years for such clients as Miller Brewing, Master Lock and local marketing agencies and hospitals. She has taught writing, worked as on-air personality for Milwaukee radio and served as fashion editor and columnist for a monthly magazine. Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts from Marquette University and a Bachelor of Arts from Mt. Mary College.

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