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Breakaway Roping

Copyright Mark Gunter

Photo: Mark Gunter

Breakaway roping is the female version of rope and tie. The event differs in that the cowgirl does not have to dismount, thrown the calf and tie it’s legs.  Instead, the cowgirl, throws the rope, catching the calf around the neck and then the rope breaks away from its tie to the saddle horn with string.

The event begins with the cowgirl in a starting box secured behind a rope barrier.  The cowgirl gives a signal that she is ready and the calf is released from the chute.  The calf receives a head start that is determined by the length of the arena. When the calf reaches its advantage point, the barrier is released and the cow girl races out after the calf.

The horse is trained to follow the calf where ever it runs in the arena.  The cowgirl pursues the calf and tries to “lasso” it around the neck.  When the calf is roped, the horse pulls up and calf keeps running until the rope is taut.  The rope then ‘breaks’ from the saddle horn and the time is taken.

Breakaway ropers attach a brightly coloured piece of cloth to the end of their rope, so that the judge can easily see when the rope has broken away from the saddle horn and to clearly indicate their success.

These girls are fast and skilful and this event is as hotly contested as hotly by these cowgirls as by the cowboys in the rope and tie.


Breakaway roping is a timed event with the fastest time winning.  Time starts from the when the barrier is released and the cowgirl races out and ends when the rope breaks away from the cowgirl’s saddle.

If the cowgirl roper breaks the barrier before the calf reaches its head start, the she is given a 10-second penalty.

The contestant shall receive a no-time if she breaks the rope away from the saddle horn by hand.  Stock less than 140 kg with horn length of 3 inches or less, the rope must pass over the head or draw as a clean catch around the neck, hump or brisket, no legs or figure of eight on the tail.

Stock over 140 kg with a horn length of more than 3 inch can be roped around the neck, both horns, half head.   Any other catch is illegal