Calf 16, Divine Intervention, and Follow Through: Johnson Wins Inaugural RodeoHouston Breakaway

Learn how a black calf, correct form, and a little help from above helped Erin Johnson win $53,750 and the first-ever RodeoHouston Breakaway Champion title. 

Breakaway Roping at RodeoHouston featuring Erin Johnson
Erin Johnson at RodeoHouston by Impulse Photography

Erin Johnson roped her way into history books at RodeoHouston on March 19 by winning the first-ever Championship shootout round, worth $50,000 and bragging rights of RodeoHouston Champion Breakaway Roper. 

For Johnson, the stars were aligned at RodeoHouston. The two-time NFBR Qualifier kicked things off in Super Series 3 by topping the round with a 2.7-second run. She earned $3,000 for her efforts. In the Semifinal, Johnson caught the barrier, turning her 2.2-second run into a 12.2, and that was when things became unique. 

Johnson advanced through to the Championship round with the broken barrier and arrived on the day of the finals to find a familiar number on the draw next to her name: 16. 

“I roped that same calf three times— in the Super Series, the Semifinals, and the Championship,” Johnson said. “That doesn’t normally happen, but in this format of rodeo—tournament style—they consider it a new rodeo each time you progress so, for drawing purposes, it’s separate each time. It’s very unlikely … but it can happen.” 

Calf 16 threw Johnson for a loop, however, in the Championship round. As Johnson released her rope, the calf ducked left, which caused her top strand to brush the calf’s ear. At the last moment, the bottom of the loop traveled up the calf’s nose and over his head, falling into a clean catch before it broke free from the saddle. 

“I was the most surprised person in that stadium when it went over his head and broke away,” Johnson said. “By God’s grace that loop went on. God wanted me to win this rodeo.”  

The win marked another “first,” in breakaway roping history, with 2022 being the first year RodeoHouston—while also celebrating its 90th anniversary—included the sport in its 20-day, $2.17-million rodeo. Johnson was grateful to be a part of the action in NRG Stadium.

“This is the most awesome thing I’ve ever been part of,” Johnson said. ““I just want to thank the committee and sponsors for thinking enough of women in rodeo to include us and treat us like equals in Houston.”

Johnson, who is now seated in the No. 1 position in the WPRA World Standings, believes that divine intervention helped align her week, but those forces were not what made her loop seek out the calf’s neck. She pointed out that her fellow coach, Hope Thompson, and fellow competitor Amanda Coleman, had similar experiences at RodeoHouston, and there is more to the assumed lucky shots than meets the eye. 

“Those loops, including mine, only ended up going on because they followed through. Those won’t work out for a lot of people because they don’t follow through correctly,” Johnson clarified. “I’m calling it luck, but it isn’t just luck. It’s because you did something fundamentally correct that it ended up working,” 

For more tips from Johnson about how to improve your roping and make the tricky shots work, check out her playlist on and use code ERIN15 for 15% off of a membership.

Changing The Game Plan After Missing Your Throw

Lessons Learned from 2020 NFBR

RodeoHouston Results


  1. Erin Johnson, 2.7-second run, worth $50,000
  2. Laramie Johnson, 12.2-second run, worth $20,000
  3. Amanda Coleman, 12.4-second run, worth $10,000
  4. J.J. Hampton, no time, worth $5,500


  1. Amanda Coleman, 2.5-second run, worth $3,000
  2. J.J. Hampton, 4.2-second run, worth $2,000
  3. Laramie Johnson, 4.4-second run, worth $1,000
  4. Erin Johnson, 12.2-second run, worth $750

What Gives, RodeoHouston? Where’s The Breakaway?

Super Series 1

1. J. Hampton, 3.2 seconds, $3,000

2. Taylor Munsell, 3.3, $2,000

3. Joey Williams, 4.0, $1,000

4. Bryana Lehrmann, 12.0, $750

Super Series 2

1. Shelby Boisjoli, 2.6-second run, worth $3,000

2. Hope Thompson, 2.8-second run, worth $2,000

3. Amber Crawford, 3.1- second run, worth $1,000

4. Nicole Baggarley, 3.7-second run, worth $750

Super Series 3

1. Erin Johnson, 2.7-second run, worth $3,000

2. Amanda Coleman, 3.4-second run, worth $2,000

3. Makayla Boisjoli, 3.5-second run, worth $1,000

4. Jordi Edens, 3.6-second run, worth $750

Super Series 4

1/2. Tiada Gray, 2.9-second run, worth $2,500

1/2. Taylor Hanchey, 2.9-second run, worth $2,500

3. Kayelen Helton, 3.2-second run, worth $1,000

4. Jordan Jo Hollabaugh, 3.5-second run, worth $750

Super Series 5

1. Katie Mundorf, 2.8-second run, worth $3,000

2. Laramie Johnson, 3.6-second run, worth $2,000

3/4. Danielle Lowman, 3.8-second run, worth $875 each

3/4. Jackie Crawford, 3.8-second run, worth $875 each