--A very confused situation
To teach new cowboys the art of roping a moving target, such as a horse or a steer, novices would be put in a pen full of goats, which were smaller and less dangerous, to hone their craft. The old-timers would gather to watch, drink, whoop and be amused by the ensuing melee. It was not a pretty sight.
I'm a writer with a book of the same name and I did extensive research to find the origins of this term.