Breaking it Down – Transitioning from team roping to breakaway


    Transitioning from team roping to breakaway

    The explosion of breakaway roping has been phenomenal. This growth is very exciting for the girls and I really don’t see it stopping in the near future. When my daughter, Hali, was young she didn’t really want to breakaway rope, she was a team roper. Once in Junior High rodeo she realized she needed to. Because she learned to rope right to left and the emphasis had been on catching every cow, it was a major transition learning to rope calves. When roping calves, you don’t want to tie your hands together and come across. You actually want slack between your hands and then drop a coil when you throw your rope. It was very different trying to learn to rope calves. However, she has gotten to where she has a fairly high catch percentage and is really starting to like it. Actually, more so than team roping because she hasn’t had much success as a #6 header.

    In October I hurt my elbow, so I didn’t plan on going to the Patriot or the American qualifier and didn’t have it on my calendar. I booked schools away from home in Orange, Texas, and Florida for the ten days during those two events. Hali qualified for two breakaway spots in the American qualifier and was not very happy when she realized I had a scheduling conflict. Next year she plans to block off those dates on my calendar beforehand.

    There were some good breakaway jackpots the week of the American and Hali didn’t do well. My daughter has gone from being a conservative team roper to an “all or nothing” breakaway roper. We had a long talk about trying to force yourself to win first. First you’ve got to catch the calves and when you get to the short round, put yourself in a position to win something. I explained that you can’t just go at them hard from the start. That leads to a lot of failures.

    So, we had the worst week of breakaway at three different jackpots but came close to winning some fast times. She got it out of her hand fast, roped the nose, ears, and did an outstanding job of throwing her rope when the barrier was pulling. We had a long visit and I told her, “Daddy has done that; try to win first a lot and you need to realize your success rate is not high when you’re trying to win first.”

    So, she had the Junior American Qualifier and there was an Open Breakaway at the Patriot. She wasn’t very excited about entering the Open after the week she’d had, but I convinced her to enter. She did a great job of catching her first three calves and came back third high call. She was very aggressive in the short round. She got two swings off and fired when she came across the line and was 1.9 and won the roping.

    I thought to myself, “Oh my child, they pay more than one place.” But I do understand that mentality. So, I just smiled and said, “Good job” when I talked to her on the phone. She had just had the worst possible week because she had been trying to go too fast. Your odds are not good when you’re maxed out at your ability. We’ve been working hard at getting her swing off and changing the way she starts her swing. We’ve got her where she can throw and now we’re focusing on accuracy. She can get her rope out of her hand when she crosses the score line, but we need a higher catching percentage rate.

    I have to give her credit because she works very hard at her roping. She diligently does her drills every day on the Speed Trainer. She uses it to work on using her left hand, putting weight in her stirrups and using her legs more effectively. We set up scenarios where the calves go left or right and she is able to practice the angles for those type of runs.

    The goal when we leave home is to not have to throw that fast. We want to be able to take one more swing for a higher catch percentage. But I’m blown away by her “do or die” aggressiveness that’s coming out in her breakaway roping. In the past I’ve tried hard to get her to throw fast in the team roping and crossing the line, but she hates to miss. That all changed last year and we will see how much range she can gain with breakaway roping. I’m curious and anxious to see how far breakaway, barrels, and team roping will go now that WCRA has a big finals this November in Vegas with the PBR. Now if the PRCA will step up and add breakaway to the NFR…

    What’s new with me: We have just finished our covered arena so our private lessons and schools can’t be rained out anymore. We will be doing some bigger groups now that I have more RV plugs and stalls that will accommodate more people. We’re talking about teaching some breakaway clinics as well. I use video in all my schools where we break down your runs and isolate problems. If you’re interested in booking a school, feel free to check my calendar at


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