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Sarah Morrissey’s Rodeo Return Emphasized with High Desert Stampede Win

After making the NFBR in 2021, Sarah Morrissey took a break from full-time rodeo. Now she’s back and hitting the Columbia River Circuit hard.

Sarah Morrissey may have dropped her reins, but that didn't keep her from winning the 2024 High Desert Stampede in Redmond, Oregon.
Sarah Morrissey may have dropped her reins, but that didn't keep her from winning the 2024 High Desert Stampede in Redmond, Oregon. Photo by Roseanna Sales

Sarah Morrissey edged out her competition at the 2024 High Desert Stampede in Redmond, Oregon, with a 1.9-second run, winning $4,855 and rocketing to the top of the Columbia River Circuit standings.

For the pharmacist and breakaway clinician from Ellensburg, WA, the run was anything but textbook—Morrissey accidentally dropped her reins as she threw her rope but still managed to break it off in less than 2 seconds.

 “I knew I’d gotten a decent start, and when I threw it wasn’t the prettiest loop, but my horse was working outstanding despite my fumble,” Morrissey, 43, said.

She rode 15-year-old sorrel gelding “Junior” to the win, who’s registered as Paseo Bar King. The pair have been together for three years, and despite how willing and broke Junior is, Morrissey’s found their consistency to be a sore spot. Now, she’s hoping they’ve turned a corner as they tackle the Columbia River Circuit.

Why’s Sarah Morrissey not rodeoing full time?

Morrissey rodeoed full-time from 2019 to 2022, advancing to the 2021 NFBR in the No. 12 position, eventually earning $37,751. She was quiet throughout 2023, holding a few clinics and putting her PhD in Pharmaceuticals to good use.

“It was finances that made me [back off],” Morrissey said. “I had to go back to reality for a little bit. I was full-time rodeoing for four years, and now I am planning to go into circuit rodeoing.”

Morrissey’s planning her circuit rodeo schedule around work and admitted that it’s a by-the-week planning system.

“It does ease your mind a little bit when you have a [job] and that financial security,” Morrissey said. “I like being able to enjoy rodeoing and not put so much pressure on myself.”

“The opportunities are growing in breakaway, and if you have the willingness and desire, then do it. There are people out here that are willing to teach you, so take the plunge.” ­– Sarah Morrissey

Breakaway’s future from a clinician’s eyes

One of the things that rivals Morrissey’s love of competition is teaching the next generation of breakaway ropers.

“As a clinician, I notice how much farther along people are nowadays than they were when I was growing up,” Morrissey said. “What a 12-year-old kid can do with a rope versus what I was able to do at their age is really something. I think a lot of that has to do with social media and the training tools like the dummies and sleds.”

According to Morrissey, the best part of clinics is teaching the students who want to learn and improve their craft.

2024 High Desert Stampede breakaway results

Redmond, Oregon

1.Sarah Morrissey, 1.9 seconds, $4,855; 2. (tie) Bailey Patterson, Mattie Turner and Suzanne Williams, 2.0, $3,156 each; 5. (tie) Sydney Berquist, Jackie Crawford, Crystal Mathwich, Harley Meged, Annie Minor and Sienna Radelfinger, 2.2, $1,254 each; 11. (tie) Taylor Munsell and Kendal Pierson, 2.3, $668 each; 13. (tie) Britni Carlson and Loralee McKoen, 2.4, $425 each; 15. Josie Reno, 2.5, $243.

Columbia River Circuit Breakaway Standings

As of 4/12/24

1Sarah Morrissey$4,855
2Bailey Patterson$3,155
2Mattie Turner$3,155
4Annie Minor$2,966
5Britni Carlson$1,913
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