[Originally published in the 2022 edition of The Team Roping Journal‘s Arizona Guide.]
Breakaway roping has been the hottest topic in the Western industry in the last couple of years thanks to its explosion into ProRodeo and major events like World Champions Rodeo Alliance Triple Crown of Rodeo events and The American. And while ropers in Texas have long enjoyed opportunities to jackpot their craft, Arizonans haven’t enjoyed those same chances…until about three years ago.
Arizona was a desert for breakaway ropers, with only the offerings of the Grand Canyon Professional Rodeo Association and a handful of mostly spring and summer jackpots, such as those remaining from the Cactus Series, a series of Women’s Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned All-Women’s events which had run strong in the 1990s, throughout the entire year.
Despite this, Arizona has churned out its share of breakaway roping champions, including WPRA champs Leigh Ann Billingsley, Kim Williamson and Tammy Lewis, along with National High School Champs Fran Whatley, JoLynn Potter and Cassie Miller, as well as College National Champ and 2022 Cheyenne Champ Macy (Fuller) Young.
Arizona has even had a rep at each of the first two Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Ropings in Young, who recently claimed the Cheyenne Frontier Days Championship, and Danielle Lowman, who is also one of several Arizonans to claim the Indian National Finals Rodeo World titles in breakaway.
For most Arizona breakaway ropers, however, the move out of youth and high school rodeos meant putting their event to the back burner in favor of team roping.
“We didn’t really have anything to go to,” said Billingsley, the 2006 WPRA World Champion Breakaway Roper and All-Around Cowgirl. “It’s been great to have more options the last few years.”
The trend began around 2019 or 2020 with events held at Western Trails Arena—now known as Dillon’s Western Trails—and Hooves and Horns in Morristown, as well as ropings at Flying Diamond Ranch in Wickenburg. Soon, events were cropping up in Wittman at the ICE Performance Horses Arena and the World Series of Breakaway, Goat Tying and Barrel Racing was offering events around the state.
Things got busy enough for breakaway roping to have its own Facebook page so that everyone could keep track of where to go—Arizona Breakaway Roping appeared in March 2020 and is still a great resource.
Longtime winter resident and NFR roper BJ Campbell soon got in on the action, hosting ropings with classes for novice horses and riders along with rodeo-style and two-head jackpots.
“You know, you get something good going and everyone copies you,” Campbell joked. His ropings are held in Wickenburg at the Flying E Ranch and Campbell is on board for more in the coming winter. “We’ll have them again and we’ll have a good set of calves—slower ones for young horses.”
Classes aimed at beginners of both the equine and human kind are on the rise as well, with more producers getting in on the trend.
Young appreciates the growth of breakaway roping jackpots during the winter in her home state.
“Now, it’s about where you can breakaway as much as where you can team rope,” she said.
Young’s family (folks Mike and Karen) played a role in the explosion of breakaway roping by hosting jackpots at their Downtown Arena in Wickenburg, including the hugely popular Calves and Cans, as well as the New Year’s Day All Girl Shootout, which holds team roping, breakaway and barrel racing, and has garnered huge entries the last two years. The Downtown Arena has also hosted a qualifying event for the Women’s Rodeo World Championships in each of the past two years.
Not only are there plenty of places to go, but the money is there to make it profitable as well.
“You can walk out the door with $200 and go every day to a jackpot and win thousands of dollars back,” Young said. “It’s pretty cool.”
“It’s especially great around Wickenburg,” Young said. “You don’t even have to fill up your pickup hardly.”
Places to Breakaway Rope in 2022-2023*
Wickenburg has definitely been the epicenter of the boom with the Big Tree Arena at Wickenburg Trailer Sales, Valley Cattle Co., the 4D Arena in Wittman and Bench W out in Tonopah coming on board in 2022.
Other areas have gotten in on the action, particularly in central Arizona. Siggins Horse Company has offered a Timed Event Rodeo series throughout the winter along with regular jackpots in Eloy, and Seth Hall has also produced ropings around Eloy and Casa Grande. The Epic Arena in Casa Grande, in conjunction with Zamora Roping Productions and Camano Island in Coolidge, has also been on the schedule.
On the northern side of the state, regular jackpots are cropping up in Camp Verde including the annual ropings like Steers N Beers from Tanner Bryson and the Winter Extraordinaire, a breakaway, tie-down and barrel racing event at the Camp Verde Equestrian Center in February.
• Dillon’s @ Western Trails Ranch
37839 West Grand Avenue, Morristown
Facebook: Dillon’s at Western Trails Ranch
• 4D Arena
23465 West Patton Road, Wittman
Facebook: Hot Shot Equine
• ICE Breakaway Jackpots
21704 West Dixileta Drive, Wittman
or 936-435-4605 (Shyanne)
Facebook: ICE Rope Horses
• BJ Campbell’s Flying E Ranch Arena
• Big Tree Arena @ Wickenburg Trailer Sales
• Valley Cattle Co./Roper’s Rally
51411 North 453rd Avenue, Wickenburg
Facebook: Roper’s Rally
• Bench W Arena
36026 W. Indian School Road, Tonopah
Facebook: Bench W Arena
• Epic Arena
World Series of Breakaway, Goat Tying & Barrel Racing
10165 N. Blanco Drive, Casa Grande
Facebook: World Series of Breakaway Roping, Goat Tying and Barrel Racing
• Camp Verde Equestrian Center
• B Cross Performance Horses, Tanner Bryson
1738 N. Arena del Loma, Camp Verde
Facebook: B Cross Performance Horses
• Camano Island Cattle Co. Arena
2136 E. Lone Star Lane, Coolidge
Facebook: Camano Island Cattle Co. Arena
• Siggins Horse Company
• Broke Down Productions Arena
850 East Acoma, Eloy
Facebook: Broke Down Productions