The term “Piggin’ String” has a special meaning
to outside cowboys who rope and tie down wild cattle and doctor
and brand calves. There are other names for this handy piece of
rope. In the Southwest, it is sometimes called a “hogging rope.”
In Texas and New Mexico, cowboys call it a “tie-down rope.“
These piggin' strings are similar to the small ropes rodeo tie-down
ropers use to tie the feet of the calves they rope in the arena.
There are a couple of ways cowboys pack their piggin strings.
Often a cowboy carries more than one string. The piggin string I
use is 7 feet long and 3/8” in diameter, cut from an old catch rope.
I have small rings attached to my saddle
on each side (under the third button on a four-button saddle).
The reason for these rings is that I ride a single-rigged saddle.
I tie the piggin string onto this ring on the near side (on
side) and run the loose ends behind the cantle to the ring on
the off side of the saddle. I place my saddle strings
and piggin string ends down through the off-side ring.
This keeps everything out of the way when you are riding through
thick brush or roping.
If you ride a double-rigged saddle, you
can tie your piggin’ string to the on-side rear D-ring. Again,
you need to run the loose ends behind the cantle and through
the off-side rear D-ring.
Some outside cowboys prefer to carry
their string attached to their chaps or chinks. They have a
metal ring installed under the top band of their chaps or chinks
on the left side. The string is first looped through the
front fastener or belt on your chinks or chaps and the two loose
ends dropped through the metal ring. It is very important
to understand nothing is tied hard and fast to the chinks or
chaps. The reason for this is that you won’t get hung up on
the string if you get in a storm with your horse.
There are a number of handy uses for a piggin
string besides tying down roped cattle. Here are a few:
You can use it to help open & close
difficult wire gates. Tie your string in a slip-knot
around the gatepost; come around the corner post with the loose
end. Pull until you get some slack in your gate latch
wire so that it can slide on (or off) the gatepost.
The string can make a spare bridle
rein if you are caught out with nothing to fix your broken
bridle rein or other piece of tack.
You can also use it to hobble your
horse if you find your hobbles have fallen off your saddle
while riding in the brush or you left them hanging on a nail
back at the ranch. From the left side of the horse, place
your string around the off side leg, bring your string to the
middle, twist your string three times, then come around the
on side front leg. Tie off with a square knot and your horse
is hobbled. (Only use this method with
small rope if your horse is already hobble-broke.)
Add to these - tie up your dog,
tie the gate closed. Bet you can think of some
How you carry this handy piece of rope does
not matter. The important thing is for it to be there if you need
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