Learning To Appreciate Breakaway Roping

Calf roping is regularly frowned upon by animal rights groups. They feel the treatment of the calves during the event is unnecessarily cruel and can result in a calf's harm. Breakaway roping is a variation of calf roping. In the United States, the event is mostly reserved for female competitors and young people under 12 years of age. Other countries allow men to compete in breakaway roping, given the level of outrage expressed by activists for calf roping tournaments in those countries. In this article, you'll learn how breakaway roping works, some of the gear and equipment used for the event and how you can get started.

Breakaway Roping Basics

This event involves 1 rider, her horse and a calf. The calf is typically "loaded" into a narrow chute that ends at a barrier. The barrier is comprised of 2 spring-loaded gates. A light 10-foot rope is attached to the calf and is used to provide it a head start in front of the rider. On the left side of the chute (for right-handed riders), the breakaway roper waits behind her own barrier. Her barrier is a simple rope attached to an easily-broken string that is tied around the calf's neck.

The event begins (and the timer is started) when the spring-loaded gates burst open and the calf launches from the chute running at full speed. Once the calf has run 10 feet (the length of the rope tied around its neck), the string that secures the rope that acts as the rider's barrier breaks. This is the signal that the rider can enter the arena.

The goal of the breakaway roper is to throw her lasso around the calf's neck. But, in contrast to rodeo's calf roping event (where the rider dismounts, and flips the calf to tie its legs), the rider simply tells her horse to stop. The other end of the rope that has lassoed the calf is twisted around the rider's saddle horn. The calf will invariably continue running. Once the rope that has lassoed the calf becomes taut, a string attached to the calf breaks. At that moment, the rider's roping run has been successfully completed. The breakaway roper with the fastest time wins the event.

Gear Used For Breakaway Roping

Riders who compete in breakaway roping should have a plentiful stock of plastic breakaways, rope barriers, skid boots for their horse and a variety of polyester and nylon ropes. Beginners can even purchase a fake calf head for practicing the accuracy of their lassoing. A popular product for dedicated ropers is the Magic Loop Breakaway Honda. It's designed to be used during practice routines yet has the same weight and balance as the tied rope hondas used during the event.

Getting Started With Breakaway Roping

Breakaway roping is a great introduction to professional rodeo events. It doesn't require flipping the calf or tying its legs. Instead, the focus is on speed and precision lassoing. If you're interested in getting involved in the event, you should watch others perform in competitions. Then, consider investing in a few DVDs that teach the fundamentals of breakaway roping. There are several instructional DVDs available that profile professional breakaway ropers who share their techniques and methods. With a little time and diligence, you can learn to become adept at this event.