Breakaway Roping is a faced-paced and relatively new discipline within the Rodeo community. We look at the origin of the sport and why the reputation of the sport is growing and introduce you to our new team member Shaya Biever.
What is Breakaway Roping?
Breakaway Roping is a fast-paced rodeo event in which a rider on horseback is required to rope a calf around the neck as quickly as possible with the rope ‘breaking away’ from the saddle once the rider catches the calf.
Breakaway roping is based on a variation of calf roping where a calf is roped, but not thrown to the floor at speed and then tied up like with calf roping.
A calf is loaded into a chute and the roper enters on horseback to the right of the calf, known as the ‘heelers side’. The horse and rider wait in the box and carefully position themselves square to the chute. When ready the rider nods their head and the chute operators opens the gate. The calf enters the arena and the roper follows shortly after, managed by a rope barrier indicating when the calf has travelled a certain distance from the chute.
The horse and roper run after the calf and at high speed attach the rope around the calves neck in what is known as a bell-collar catch. As soon as the calf is caught the roper quickly stops their horse whilst pulling the rope and breaking the small string which ties it to the saddle horn, this stops the clock. The fastest time wins!
Disqualifications and time penalties are then applied depending on how clean the catch was and whether the roper left the chute early. The current record time (as of research on 27.03.22) is 1.6 seconds, held by Taylor Lawson and set at the 2021 CNFR. Wow, don’t blink!
Where did Breakaway Roping originate?
Calf roping itself originated on the ranch, originally believed to be in the 18th century by the Spanish Caballeros. When a rancher was required to handle a large animal on their own the process of throwing a rope with a loop tied to one end and grabbing the animal without causing any injuries became a vital skill in managing the ranch.
Breakaway Roping as a sport is relatively new but extremely popular within the rodeo community.
With animal welfare of such importance the element of the rope breaking under a certain level of pressure prevents the calf from being pulled to the ground and reduces impact or injury to the calf. Still a necessary method to manage cattle safely it remains a skill all ranchers should have.
In certain parts of Europe the law prevents calf roping competitions where the calf is hauled to ground and as such breakaway roping has become an ideal replacement.
Alongside the discipline being so quick-paced and exciting to watch, the rodeo community is welcoming Breakaway Roping with open arms.
What riders can compete in Breakaway Roping?
Breakaway Roping is predominantly a female based discipline but young male riders do take part when ‘learning the ropes’ and starting off in their calf roping career. At professional level it is solely a female-based sport.
What equipment is used in Breakaway Roping?
Breakaway ropes are shorter than other ropes used for different rodeo disciplines, normally 24ft in length versus the standard 29ft. They are made from nylon or a blend of polymers and are twisted specifically in their manufacturing process for maximising the control of the rope. Breakaway ropes are also developed to be more durable than standard team ropes as the calf drags the disconnected rope out of the arena at the end of each run, requiring a more durable design.
A key factor in managing a Breakaway Roping horse is their ongoing wellbeing, specifically ensuring their joints and muscles have the time to rehabilitate and recover properly. EQU StreamZ advanced magnetic horse bands provide a complementary solution to support their horses ongoing maintenance.
What injuries are regularly found with horses competing in Breakaway Roping?
The discipline itself requires the horse to exit the box with an explosion of power and then stop immediately at high speed. This naturally causes a higher level of pressure on the horses joints and exerts muscles and ligaments to more strenuous movements.
Due to the nature of the activity breakaway roping horses can experience a higher number of muscle tears and ligament injuries. Leaving the box as such high speeds creates issues around the hocks and stifles and sometimes around the back, often leading to arthritis. Stopping at high speeds can lead to issues within the front-end such as coffin and fetlock issues and complications such as navicular.
It is our pleasure to introduce our new sponsored rider in the Breakaway Roping discipline - Shaya Biever
We introduce you to StreamZ very first sponsored Breakaway rider, Shaya Biever. We are delighted to be supporting Shaya and her wonderful horses Bullet and Playboy.
Shaya grew up in the small town of Claresholm, Alberta, Canada. She competed in Junior High and High School Rodeo Associations, qualifying for the Canadian National High School Finals Rodeo in the breakaway roping event. Following high school, Shaya was offered a full-ride scholarship to Vernon College in Vernon, Texas where she competed on the rodeo team for four years. During her time in Texas, she competed in numerous ‘jackpots’ and rodeos, against some of the best breakaway ropers in the world.
Upon completion of her degree, Shaya has returned home to Claresholm to rodeo during the summer and has plans to return to Texas after the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) in November 2022.
What are the names of your horses who you compete in breakaway roping with?
“Bullet who is a gorgeous 15-year-old black AQHA gelding that I have owned since he was 3. I trained Bullet as a breakaway horse, and he was my main horse throughout college rodeo and the horse I predominantly compete on today. My other horse, Playboy, is a 9-year-old grey AQHA gelding who I purchased over a year ago, and he has been my main practice breakaway horse."
We ask Shaya what her plans for the coming season are:
“2022 is going to be a busy year! I plan to pursue my rodeo dreams in Canada and compete in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) whilst also hoping to make the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) in the Breakaway Roping. I am aiming to qualify for the Canadian Finals Breakaway (CFB) finals which I hope to achieve by competing in various jackpots across Alberta that have qualifiers for the CFB. I will also be travelling and competing in the USA in places such as Montana and Wyoming to really help push my rodeo dreams!”
How do EQU StreamZ magnetic bands help Shaya on her quest:
"I have been faithfully using EQU StreamZ magnetic horse bands for my horses. I am a firm believer that they keep both my horses feeling amazing.
From the strenuous amount of exercise and practice they endure EQU StreamZ make sure their muscles and joints stay in the best of condition, which we notice particularly after strenuous exercise.
As well with rodeo comes a lot of trailer time and hauling across the country, EQU StreamZ make sure my horses’ legs don’t swell in the trailer from standing, so they can perform at their best at the rodeo.
Both my horses are wearing their bands and I love the fact that I can keep them on 24x7 knowing they are doing their thing and supporting my horses ongoing wellbeing.
The durability that comes with the bands is amazing - one single pair can last you a long time which means they offer a low-cost solution to treating your horses wellbeing.
My partnership with StreamZ means I will be representing EQU StreamZ at every rodeo and jackpot that I attend. Breakaway roping is still a growing event in Canada at the Professional Rodeos, and as more rodeos continue to add breakaway roping, I will be able to showcase EQU StreamZ at the highest level of breakaway roping.”
Important Note: The entire team at StreamZ are true lovers of animals. The welfare and care of all animals is paramount to our ethical approach and all our partners, sponsors and retailers share this view. Breakaway Roping, on first glance, may be in some peoples perception as going against this ethical approach. Understanding the origins of the sport and its necessity for caring effectively for a calf within a working ranch is paramount.
Imagine the scenario: you are on horseback looking out across your ranch where several hundred horses and their new calves are freely roaming, many of which were delivered into the world by your own hands. You care for each and every one of them. One specific calf requires antibiotics. You spot the calf and need to get to it safely amongst the herd and administer the medication. What are your options?..? A rope. A tranquilliser gun. The ability to get close enough to rope the calf is where the origins of the sport derive. Roping is a necessity of ranching and the most humane method in working with one calf amongst hundreds.