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Posted on Nov 24, 2014
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Misunderstanding on Dropping a Flag


Misunderstanding On Dropping the Flag


The little video of a ropers’ saddle coming apart in the short round of Heartland #10 generated a half million views in little over 48 hours. It was pretty interesting thumbing through the hundreds of comments. Most viewers were just curious about a disaster and some wishing to express their knowledge of the saddle business.


But what struck me was the number of comments concerning the flag. Obviously the steer hit the end of the rope and front of the saddle comes off , but yet there were at least a dozen comments like, “did he drop the flag”,  “he was straight should have got a flag”, etc, etc. you get the drift. And basically we have contractors that hear that stuff every weekend when something goes wrong, and someone will go to yelling, “ he dropped the flag, he dropped the flag”. That’s to be expected as spectators don’t know the rules very well. I guess a lot of new or inexperienced ropers just don’t realize why a flagger can demand an inspection and can flag a team out after the run is over.


In the mid-1980’s I was producing a big benefit roping and had hired one of the top flaggers in the country to flag it and just so happens that there was an incident on the high call team. The heeler was an older man using a heel rope that was completely wore out. When he heeled the steer the curl came over his rope and wrapped around his rope clamping the loop off. Just as the header faced, the flagger dropped the flag, and the heel rope came loose and slipped off the feet. Immediately the flagger flagged this team out, and just as immediate their friends started screaming, “you dropped the flag”, “you dropped the flag”. The ropers came running toward the flagger.


Before they could say anything the flagger said,” the rule book says the animal shall be secure between the horses, and he obviously was not, and I did not clear the run. If I don’t clear the run, then I can flag you out, just like flagging out an illegal head catch.”  They had their say, but the flagger knew the rule and won the debate. Most flaggers use the term “clears”, some rulebooks say “ passes the catch”. Nevertheless, most of you know what they are talking about.


Flaggers are gonna get caught on split second decisions, and when one of these mechanical tie-ons break after the flag drops, or a heeler pops a dally off their horn simultaneously with flag dropping, or any of the other two dozen situations, We always tell our flaggers don’t get in a hurry to clear a run. How many times a bad flag in the short round could be corrected if the flagger understood that rule. I hate it when I see a flagger make a mistake on a flag and then quickly clears it, that flagger is essentially making two mistakes on the same run.


One of these days when one of these situations occurs and the crowd starts yelling “ he dropped the flag, he dropped the flag”,  it would be great to hear someone screaming from the stands, “ he didn’t clear it, he didn’t clear it!”.



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