Reno Champion Shelby Boisjoli Dishes on 6 Ways to Succeed in a New Rodeo Setup

Shelby Boisjoli knows a thing or two about making horses comfortable at rodeos—earning more than $12,000 at the Reno Rodeo June 24.

Breakaway roper Shelby Boisjoli smiles
Shelby Boisjoli smiles after securing her Reno Rodeo average championship. Photo by Click Thompson.

Shelby Boisjoli was the picture of consistency at the Reno Rodeo in Nevada, June 16–24, 2023, roping in 2.3, 3.0 and 2.2-seconds to capture the aggregate championship and garner a total of $12,035.

The Stephenville, Texas, resident had advanced to the short go but missed the big prize the last two years at Reno—and told her new husband and tie-down roper Haven Meged she was hungry for the win.

“The short go fell apart [for other ropers] and I had to be 3.2 seconds to win,” Boisjoil, 25, said. “It was probably one of the wildest things I’ve done—go be 2.2 seconds. I was lucky to not break the barrier on that short go run.”

After “playing it safe” during her 2022 summer run, Boisjoli said she’s pushing herself—and the barrier—more this year.

With plenty of experience bringing horses of all levels to the pay window, The Breakaway Roping Journal rounded up Boisjoli’s tips for acclimating a greener horse to a new rodeo setup.

No. 6 Haul them before the money is up

“With my young ones, if I know I am going to be hauling that horse in the future, whenever my trailer leaves the yard that horse is on the trailer,” Boisjoli said. “He’s going to go and get tied up, I might take him to the arena with me and ride him around if I have time.”

Boisjoli wants at least a month of hauling youngsters to rodeos and jackpots—but more is even better.

No. 5 Upon arrival, saddle up and ride

“I want to saddle the horse right away and just go ride them around,” Boisjoli said. “Show them everything. I’ll be in and out of the box if I can.”

Hear Shelby Boisjoli break down her 2023 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Championship as well as her view of the rapidly growing breakaway futurity industry.

No. 4 Lope them down

“Get them tired and focused, because I think the worst thing you can do is show up on a horse for his first time and have him fresh and not paying attention,” Boisjoli said. “When they get to doing their own thing, they get worked up a lot more and they need to lean on us to stay relaxed and focused.”

Boisjoli’s exercises include loping and walking circles with bending and counter bending at the walk.

“Go slow and get them soft to where I can wiggle my finger on the rein and they’re giving their nose. Once they’re like that I feel like they’re paying attention to me. You’ll know when they have their attention on you, they’ll have one ear back and one ear forward.”

No. 3 Go for a walk—on foot

“If you’re nervous, take time away from your horse until you can get ahold of your nerves,” Boisjoli said. “You can’t expect them to not be nervous and hyper if you’re nervous and hyper. They can feel everything they’re feeling. Make sure you keep yourself in check. I’ll walk around [on foot] and breathe or get off and stand beside my horse. Just pet on them and slow my heart rate if I get nervous.”

No. 2 Duplicate at-home box strategy

Boisjoli focuses on keeping calm, cool and collected when she walks into a new box at a rodeo, focusing on duplicating the turn and setup the exact way she does during practice to minimize a horse’s nerves.

No. 1 Practice at home after a competition run

For every run at a rodeo or jackpot, Boisjoli likes to double the practice runs and triple the scoring runs back home.

“The second they get a run away from the house they need to come back and get grounded because it’s so easy to blow a horse up and get them nervous away from the house,” Boisjoli said. “Make sure you’re giving them good looks every time, and you’re not taking bad throws. It’s so easy to knock the confidence out of the horses. We do everything different when we’re trying to win something.”

Next on the docket for Shelby Boisjoli is the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, Arizona, June 28–July 4 where they’re paying out $19,000.