Members of a disqualified roper’s team are lashing back at officials with the Calgary Stampede, saying they are ‘making up the rules’ and it’s threatening the future of the rodeo.

For the first time in Stampede history, a rodeo competitor was disqualifed from his event.

Tuf Cooper, a member of the famous Cooper family of tie-down ropers, allegedly whipped a horse during the tie-down event on Wednesday afternoon.

“It is believed to be the first time a competitor has been disqualified under this ruling,” said Kristina Barnes, spokesperson for the Stampede. “Mistreatment of livestock is not something the Calgary Stampede wants to see or does see very often but, in this case, that was the decision.”

On Wednesday night, Cooper came out of the gate on his best horse, Rio, a prized member of the family for many years, his rodeo team says.

In the video released to CTV from the Calgary Stampede, Cooper appears to whip the horse several times with his rope as he chases down the calf.

That action, officials say, was the reason why Cooper was taken out of the competition.

Cooper’s agent Shawn Wiese has already commented on the decision, saying that Tuf accepted the ruling, but says he always treats his horses well and would never intentionally hurt an animal.

On Thursday night, Cooper’s team released a statement, saying:

Tuf’s horse was late coming out of the box. Just like a barrel racers whips her horse home to the finish line or a chuck racer whips their horses to the finish line, Tuf had to get his horse going to catch up to the calf.

His horse Rio is the best horse he owns and has been in the family for years.

The decision of the Calgary judges comes from a long time fight with animal activists that want to get rid of calf roping all together. If the Calgary Stampede keeps making rules up as they go, to please animal activists, there will be no Stampede in years to come.

Cooper is a three-time world champion tie-down roper. His father Roy is a member of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

The 25-year-old, from Decatur, TX, was the 2011 Calgary Stampede Tie-Down Roping Champion.