Piggin' String

The term "piggin' string" has special meaning to cowboys who rope wild cattle and doctor and brand calves. There are other names for this handy piece of rope, such as "hoggin' rope" or "tie-down rope."

There are a couple of ways cowboys pack their piggin' strings:

1. I have smaller dees attached to my saddle on each side (under the third button on a four-button saddle). The reason for these dees is that I ride a single-rigged saddle. I tie the piggin' string on the near-side dee and run the loose ends behind the cantle to the off-side dee. I place my saddle strings and piggin' strings ends down, through the off-side dee. This keeps everything out of the way when riding through thick brush or roping.

2. If you ride a double-rigged saddle, you can tie your piggin' string to the near-side rear dee. Again, run the loose ends behind the cantle and through the off-side rear dee.

3. Some cowboys prefer to carry their strings attached to their chaps or chinks. They often have a metal ring installed under the tip band of their chaps or chinks on the left side. The string's first looped through the front fastener or chap or chinks belt, and the two loose ends are dropped through the metal ring. It's very important to understand nothing is tied hard and fast to the chinks or chaps. The reason: You won't get hung up on the string if you get in a storm with your horse.

How you carry this handy piece of rope doesn't matter. The important thing is for it to be there if you need it. And there are a number of handy uses for a piggin' string - besides tying down roped cattle. Here are a few:

1. You can use the string to help open and close difficult wire gates. Tie your string in a slip-knot around the gatepost and come around the corner post with the loose end. Pull until there's slack in your gate-latch wire so that it can slide more easily on (or off) the gatepost.

2. The string can make a spare bridle rein if you're out riding with nothing to fix a broken rein.

You also can use a string to hobble your horse if your hobbles have fallen off your saddle or been left 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 near front leg. Tie a square knot, and your horse is hobbled. However, hobbling with a piggin' string isn't recommended for horses who aren't truly hobble-broke.