Monday is for real, working cowboys and cowgirls at the Pendleton Round-Up.

While volunteers and media representatives lined up at the security trailer to get their photo ID badges for the week, other volunteers were feeding stock and training calves.

That's right, they train the calves to be roped and tied.

Joe Talbot, Round-Up's livestock director, explained that the Round-Up does things a bit differently where the calf roping is concerned. He said the calves in Pendleton this week have never been roped.

"They are just off the range, they haven't been handled much since they got their ear tags when they were born," he said.

So on Monday, under the west grandstand behind the scenes, a bunch of cowboys stood around taking turns flopping a calf and tying up its feet, then letting it get used to the notion for a few seconds before turning it loose and doing it again.

The calves have to learn where to go. During the show they'll be in individual chutes next to a runway out to the arena. A rider is stationed at the end of the runway, hooked by headset to a starter out in the arena.

When the cowboy is ready, the starter gives the word, the calf's chute opens and the standby cowboy makes sure the calf runs down the runway and into the arena.

Monday, a group of riders were on hand to meet the calves in the muddy arena and herd them across the grass to the east end where they exit.

The calves are all about 6 months old, Talbot said, and when Round-Up is over they'll go back to grass, grow up and feed some cowboy down the road.

The folks "running the calves" all looked real at home in the saddle and around the critters. Waiting their turn, cowboys twirled their little ropes with the same kind of absent mindedness that scratch golfers bounce a ball on their wedge.

All the riders were muddy and wet, reminding a city guy just how outdoors this cowboy stuff really is. One rider, however, had bright turquoise nails as she guided her pony out of the arena.

"We couldn't do this without all that help," Talbot said, pointing to the youngsters hanging around the stalls. "Some of them work for wages, but this week they're working here for free. Others are trying to balance football and Round-Up, but we can't do this without them.

Today's vocabulary:

Hondo, noun. The loop at the end of the lasso that creates the big loop. (Not the Paul Newman character in movie of the same name.)

Pig'n string. (noun) The little rope used to tie up the calf's feet during the "tie down" event that used to be called "calf roping."

A fact: The Round-Up runs on hay. Unlike many rodeos, the Round-Up provides free hay for all the stock, 82 tons of 100-140 pound bales, to be exact.

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