Top 10 Richest WPRA Breakaway ProRodeos of 2022

The Women's Professional Rodeo Association ropers have more opportunity than ever to win money, with rising 2022 breakaway ProRodeo payouts and added opportunities across the country—despite a lack of confirmation on end-of-season opportunities.

Erin Johnson Rodeo Houston ProRodeo Breakaway Payouts
Erin Johnson winning the $50,000 RodeoHouston payout in 2022. | Impulse Photography

The tide is rising in ProRodeo for WPRA breakaway ropers, and that is no more evident than in the list of the top 10 richest breakaway ProRodeo payouts on the calendar for 2022.

Tenth position on the list of breakaway ProRodeo payouts a year ago was a tie between Tremonton and Logan, both in Utah, with matching added money at $8,000 for the ropers. 

To get on the list in 2022, a committee had to more than double that total.

In fact, only three rodeos are appearing on the breakaway ProRodeo payouts list again this year: Cheyenne Frontier Days, which was number one a year ago, the Pendleton Round-Up, and Reno Rodeo as huge events like RodeoHouston, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and Spanish Fork Fiesta Days have added breakaway roping for the first time in their histories this season.

It should be noted that the NFR Open powered by RAM to be held in Colorado Springs in July and the NFR Playoff in Puyallup, Wash. in September will both be on this list with announced total payouts to contestants and livestock over $1 million at each event but a per event breakdown is not available at this time. 

Ladies must qualify to compete at both events: the NFR Open features the year end and average champions from each circuit from 2021 while the top 23 in the NFR Playoff Series standings will compete in the NFR Playoff, along with the NFR Open champ. Both events will count towards the 2022 WPRA ProRodeo Breakaway World standings.

10/9/8. Hermiston, Oregon,

Date: 8/10/2022 to 8/13/2022

Added Money: $20,000

Fees: $271

Compared to the other rodeos on the list, the Farm City Pro Rodeo is a youngster, started back in 1988 by a group that included competing rodeo contestants like now-T.V. analyst Butch Knowles and David Bothum, who still runs things as a member of the Board of Directors. Both cowboys were NFR competitors themselves and designed the rodeo to be a contestant favorite. Despite its youth compared to some others, the eastern Oregon event has quickly risen to be a top destination for competitors on the trail to the National Finals Rodeo and marks the beginning of the Northwest run.

The Farm City Pro Rodeo is new to WPRA breakaway ropers in 2022 as the committee comes on board full force, with equal money and equal format to the PRCA timed events. Spread across four days, the eighty ropers will run one head in the afternoon and a second that same night as they fight for dollars and points toward the NFR Playoff just a month later. Plus, the committee will pay the stock charge for the breakaway ropers, lowering their fees from $296 to $271.

10/9/8. Salinas, California,

Date: 7/21/2022 to 7/24/2022

Added Money: $20,000

Fees: $331

A year ago, the legendary California Rodeo skipped its normal “Big Week” celebration in July and instead hosted the ProRodeo Tour Finale in September, which featured breakaway roping over the traditional long score used for all timed events in this 112 year old ro-DAY-oh (that’s how the locals pronounce it). 

The rodeo is back in July this year and brought the breakaway ropers. Like their male counterparts, the 60 breakaway ropers competing in Salinas will get two rounds in one day—there are three preliminary performances with morning slacks prior—and the top 12 on two head will come back for Sunday’s short go round for the chance to win one of ProRodeo’s most famous buckles.

10/9/8. Reno, Nevada,

Date: 6/17/22 to 6/25/22

Added Money: $20,000

Fee: $331

One of the Cowboy Channel’s most watched video clips in 2021 was of Reno Champion JJ Hampton’s celebration following her short round run; the 18-time WPRA World Champ pulled off the improbable clean sweep en route to claiming the first ever Reno Rodeo Breakaway Roping Championship. 

Dubbed the Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West, Reno returns in 2022 for its 103rd rodeo with breakaway ropers back to chase the silver spurs given to the winner each year. Ropers will compete in back-to-back, morning slack to evening perf rounds for the first eight days of rodeo with the top 12 in the average earning a trip to one of ProRodeo’s most exciting short rounds. New in 2022, Reno raised their limits, allowing 16 more ladies a chance to compete.

7. Greeley, Colorado,

Date: 6/25/2022 to 6/30/2022

Added Money: $25,000

Fees: $331

The Greeley Stampede kicks off the Fourth of July run and will overlap with the Reno Rodeo this year, giving breakaway ropers a shot to win a ton of money in about a week’s time . . . before the lucrative Cowgirl Christmas run even gets underway. The Stampede is the central piece of a 12-day festival which features concerts, parades and a carnival and brings about a quarter of a million visitors each year.

For their 100th anniversary, Greeley went big time for all contestants including the breakaway ropers with $25,000 added and saddles to the champions. A big field of 150 breakaway ropers will ensure an amazing contest as everyone ropes their first in the slack on June 21 with the second round beginning back that same day and continuing into the five performances of rodeo action. The top 12 in the average will compete again on June 30 in the short go.

6. Spanish Fork, Utah,

Date: 7/20/2022 to 7/25/2022

Added Money: $25,500

Fees: $296

Long a favorite of WPRA barrel racers, the Spanish Fork Fiesta Days Rodeo is a three-time WPRA Large Rodeo Committee of the Year and will host breakaway roping for the first time in 2022 and in a big way with equal money and format to the other timed events. Eighty ropers will try their hand across two, back-to-back rounds covering four days. 

The Fiesta Days is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2022 and has sold out 67 consecutive performances, filling their beautiful, 8,490-seat stadium to the brim every night.

5. Pendleton, Oregon,

Date: 9/10/22 to 9/17/22

Added Money: $40,000

Fee: $331

For the 112th year, it’s time to “Let ‘er Buck!” at the world famous Pendleton Round-Up. With an early history full of cowgirl contests, the Round-Up brought the ladies back in 2000 with WPRA barrel racing and added the second ladies’ event, breakaway back in 2017. However, 2021 marked the first time that a full slate of competitors were able to try their hand off Pendleton’s famous hill and long score and onto the grass arena, and the first time to have equal money as their male counterparts. Teenager Sawyer Gilbert used a win as a launching pad to her first WPRA World title in 2021. 

Winner of six of the last seven PRCA Large Outdoor Rodeo awards (missing only 2021 when the Round-Up was canceled due to COVID), the Round-Up features three performances prior to their Saturday short go, all with the traditional shot gun start and complete with Native American dancing and lots of good times in the Let ‘er Buck room for those with a thirst for Pendleton whiskey and adventure!

4. Cheyenne, Wyoming,

Date: 7/22/22 to 7/31/22

Added Money: $67,000

Fees: $521

The Daddy of ‘Em All holds its third breakaway roping in 2022 and was another major highlight for 2021 WPRA World Champion Sawyer Gilbert a year ago. With a tournament style that begins with 200 ropers and whittles them down through successive, sudden death competition until only 12 remaining during the Finals, Cheyenne represents a huge opportunity for those capable of managing the fresh calves on the hand-pulled barrier in Cheyenne’s notoriously huge arena. 

Cheyenne Frontier Days hosts nine days of wild west action and fills up the Wyoming capital with hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe, bringing an economic impact of $28 million to the community. 

3. San Antonio, Texas,

Date: 2/10/2022 to 2/26/2022

Added Money: $90,000

Fees: $0

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo holds a record in the PRCA as a 14-time winner of the Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year. The committee pays the entry fees for all contestants. After a COVID year in a different venue, the rodeo returned to the AT&T Center in 2022 and invited the breakaway ropers to compete for the first time.

San Antonio is also a tournament style rodeo with competitors working their way through a three-head bracket and two-round semi-finals to land in the short round. Unlike some other rodeos, however, money won carries a contestant forward and also determines the champion in the end. Martha Angelone won the first Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping back in 2020 and made history again as the first San Antonio breakaway champion after she earned $11,250 in the Alamo City.

2. Fort Worth, Texas,

Date: 1/21/2022 to 2/5/2022

Added Money: $113,600

Fees: $271

The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show was the first major winter rodeo to add breakaway roping back in 2020 and they did so at full steam with equal money to the ladies. Fort Worth is the World’s Original Indoor Rodeo and, like Pendleton, has a rich history of ladies’ events. Today, the rodeo is held in the state-of-the-art Dickies Arena which holds 9,400 spectators for each of its twenty-five performances, eighteen of which showcase PRCA and WPRA competitors. 

After canceling due to COVID-19 in 2021, the rodeo was back with its tournament format featuring 56 top ropers and reigning WPRA All Around World Champion Kelsie Domer roped her way through her bracket, wild card and semi-finals to best the field in the finals for the championship. The $26,800 she won is huge as Domer will miss the majority of the summer as she and husband Ryan are expecting their first child later this year.

1. Houston, Texas,

Date: 2/28/2022 to 3/19/2022

Added Money: $133,500

Fees: $500

RodeoHouston was one of the first major rodeos to introduce the tournament style rodeo that has become the preferred format amongst the most lucrative rodeos in recent years. In 2022 1.3 million spectators witnessed as RodeoHouston brought WPRA breakaway roping to NRG Stadium for the first time. RodeoHouston runs for twenty performances and eight featured the breakaway roping.

Three-time WPRA World Champion Erin Johnson displayed nerves of steel as she progressed through the all sudden death format—the ladies got one round in bracket competition to advance and bracket winners got RodeoHouston guitars. Then it was one run in the semi-finals and one in the Shoot-Out round for the $50,000 payout. Johnson collected $53,750 for her three calves, $28,750 of which counted to WPRA World standings, giving her the number one position moving into the spring. BRJ

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