The No. 1 Rule for the Breakaway Roper’s Practice Pen

Breakaway Roper's Practice Pen Rule number one? Only one breakaway roper practicing at a time, says 2020 World Champion Jackie Crawford.

Jackie Crawford Breakaway Roping Practice Rule
Photo by RC Photography

Earlier this month, you might have read a thought or two I put together about my season—but I want to tell you one specific thing I’m changing as a results of the struggles I’ve clearly had with my roping.

I’ve got to give the credit to Jade Conner on this one: When he runs a practice, he told us only one person ropes at a time. I got to thinking about it: It’s like when I rope, I don’t want to rope one and sit and watch. Tempo is wildly important in a practice session, and I’ve heard NFL quarterbacks talk about it a lot.

tem·​po : 
rate of motion or activity

It’s the same thing for breakaway ropers. When you start throwing too many people in the arena, that messes up the tempo of what you need to get done. I hadn’t been able to put words to it before, but when Jade did, it really resonated. When it’s that person’s time to rope, all hands go on deck for that person. They have what they need—a person kicking the box down, a person on the chute, a person bringing the steers up.

I had Martha and Sarah Angelone over the other day, and we had the best practice. I truly feel they’re two of the best ever, and they were so good to have in the practice pen—they filmed, they yelled at me. And I roped an entire pen by myself with them at the house. Smarty is making a new list of rules for my arena, and one roper at a time is No. 1.

Don’t get it twisted—this does not mean nobody else can be in the arena, and nobody else can use the cattle. It means that for the time each girl is setting aside to practice, the practice session is about her. Because that’s the best way to keep the tempo in a practice session.