On Sunday, March 9, 20X World Champion breakaway roper Jackie Crawford sealed the deal at The American Rodeo with a blazing 2.26-second run in the tournament-style final four to win her first-ever $100,000 check.
To get to her final run, Crawford turned in a 2.44-second to come back to the four-man shootout in the second position behind Kelsie Domer’s 2.36-second run.
In the shootout round, Sammy Taylor and Harley Pryor were first cowgirls out, followed by Crawford and Domer. The situation seemed all too familiar for Crawford, who had been in the same position with Domer, one of her closest friends, twice before—the two had battled it out through the qualifying system every year, except in 2021, when Crawford was pregnant with her daughter, Journey.
“It was our third year coming in together,” Crawford explained. “I looked at Kelsie and said, ‘Here we go,’ and we laughed and did our normal high-five, low-five.”
Making a vow to go for it no matter how the first two cowgirls did, Crawford stayed true to her plan and went at her calf with aggression. Despite the fact that no times had been posted, Crawford pinged the barrier and threw fast to be 2.26 seconds, and Domer followed behind with a fast throw but tripped the barrier to turn in a 12.13-second time.
Although she was the most decorated cowgirl in the field, Crawford has been putting in the work to be at the top of her game. She utilized her custom practice setup to prepare for the setup at Cowtown Coliseum, where she roped against 9 of her fellow 2021 WPRA World Standings invitees and 10 qualifiers who had been roping in the setup all week.
“I made my boxes to where I can adjust them because I believe that is super important to being competitive,” Crawford said. “So, I adjusted my boxes to the measurements at Fort Worth. I practiced getting my horse to really throttle out and float and not just come full tilt off the corner. Saturday, I went home and readjusted the boxes to the measurements at AT&T and practiced.”
Even on the day of the event, Crawford took extra measures to ensure that she and her equine partner would be prepared. Peppin Up My Step, or “Kevin,” was the horse that Crawford rode to victory at the inaugural Ruby Buckle Breakaway in 2021, but at just 8 years old, Crawford wanted to give him every opportunity to feel comfortable and shine at The American.
“I left early on Sunday morning and drove to AT&T Stadium to be there by 8:00 a.m. for the open riding so that I could get my horse in the box and really get a feel for the setup. I know they change it almost every year,” said the inaugural National Finals of Breakaway Roping champ.
Crawford wasn’t the only one in the family roping at The American. Her stepdaughter Kaydence qualified to rope at AT&T through the qualifying system, and Crawford noted that the two took on very different practice plans for the events.
“We had totally different game plans. Kaydence hasn’t roped a live calf in probably three weeks. She has one good horse and wanted to make sure he was scoring and feeling good. She had her timing down and didn’t want to mess with it, so she roped the dummy a ton and tracked the sled dummy a lot,” Crawford explained.
Although both cowgirls had very different practice plans throughout the competition, Kaydence led the field of qualifiers all week during the semifinal and contender rounds, but a small bobble kept her out of the top four on Sunday.
Crawford’s strong finish earned her the $100,000 check, but The American Rodeo meant so much more to the Texas cowgirl than a dollar ever could.
“I was dreaming about doing this long before it was ever about money. The money is just a cherry on top. The fact that we get to back in the box at the places we do, with the people standing beside us,” Crawford said. “It’s about the principle of it. It’s more about the places and the experiences—the things that are going to go down in the history books—than the big money.”
With March being Women’s History Month, Crawford took an moment to reflect after her win at The American. Along with being a champion, she’s an advocate and spokesperson for the sport of breakaway roping, but she hasn’t let her historic wins go to her head.
“I have no idea why I’m blessed to be able to be a part of so many firsts—I was the first woman to win $50,000 at the WCRA, to win a PRCA World Championship, to win a round at the NFBR, I was one of the first four to make The American the first year—what a journey. It isn’t me. It’s out of my control, but it’s crazy to think about,” Crawford said.