Breakaway Benefactor: Lari Dee Guy

In this 10-part series, Julie Mankin profiles the unsung heroes of breakaway roping.
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This is no unsung hero. Guy, 49, just graced the cover of Cowgirl Magazine’s November/December issue as breakaway roping’s “grande dame.” She’s been sung about for 35 years, but sadly not much outside Texas until a handful of years ago.

Guy made waves for pure handiness. Girls entered at one of the first big stand-alone tie-down and breakaway jackpots in Amarillo, Texas in 1999 will never forget the day they watched her use her loop as an over-and-under not once, but two times, and still win the day money. Jaws dropped. She has always been revolutionary. But it’s not her countless college, amateur, jackpot and WPRA championships that have her on this list. It’s the top rope horses and top breakaway ropers she’s personally trained.

Breakaway Benefactors: The 10 Unsung Heroes

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When the greatest female roper of all time began partnering on horses with the greatest male roper of all time, magic happened. The King of the Cowboys has loved the horses Guy has trained since he was 10 years old. Trevor Brazile’s relationship with Guy has deepened over time and is still going strong, and it gave an important credibility to her career.

“I feel I owe a lot to him in the aspect of when people really got to recognizing my horses,” she says. “Once they’ve seen a cowboy ride your horses, then people will take a closer look.”

In fact, her passion has always been good horses. So until a dozen years ago, Guy focused more on training horses than rodeoing. But her other mainstay for 30 years has been coaching.

“I think I was about 17 when Bob Doty was coaching at Snyder and asked me to do my first clinic,” she recalls. “I give him the credit for getting me out there and having me do that.”

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Guy has never stopped. She hosts about ten clinics every year, which amounts to literally thousands of breakaway ropers who have benefitted – and counting. But even more impactful is the way she’s opened her home and facility to girls who truly wanted to become like her. Jackie Crawford lived with Guy for eight or nine years and many of today’s greats, such as Hope Thompson, used lengthy stays in Abilene to get where they could scratch out a living with their ropes. Afterward, they, in turn, have paid it forward to aspiring ropers. Truly, those careers would not exist without Guy’s influence, no matter how many times this incredibly humble woman refuses credit.

In fact, IndyCar driver and now owner Jackie Heinricher says a woman cannot be what she cannot see. In the 1980s, Guy herself had never seen a woman able to make a living with a rope.

“When I was younger, I wasn’t necessarily told I couldn’t do it, per se, but it was an attitude more or less of ‘girls don’t do that’ and ‘you’re not going to be able to do that,’” she recalls. “So I did it. That was my goal when I built my indoor arena ten years ago and that was my goal right out of college when I said, ‘I’m going to have an awesome facility and make a living doing what I love to do.’”

Guy was blessed, she says, to be from a big cattle ranch and have a “very supportive” family. But still, she never noticed her influence on women until people started bringing it to her attention.

“It’s kind of cool now to see other ladies doing it,” she says. “I went to a Halloween party at the new place Kelsie Chase has built. She’s one of the best breakaway ropers in the world, and she has 30 acres and a half-covered arena now – it’s cool to see she’d doing all of that with her rope.”

Guy wants women’s roping to get bigger and bigger. She feels like the turning point after which breakaway exploded was the day the WCRA announced their Women’s Rodeo World Championship.

“As soon as they said they were going to pay a girl $50,000 and now to have her walk out amid the smoke with J.B. Mouney and all those guys?” she asks. “Once that happened, it changed everything.”

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Guy sees breakaway becoming like the barrel race in the PRCA, but says it needs to be done correctly today so that women aren’t having to go back and fight for equality like the barrel racers did. Women ropers may not quite be on par with the boys yet, but the past two years have seen a hell of an improvement.

“What’s happening today is not something we should get credit for,” Guy says of breakaway’s rise. “It’s what Betty Gayle started, and Wanda Bush. When I was a kid, a lady named Judy Ford used to come over to my dad’s and tie down calves. Those were the women who put in the work and laid the foundation for me to even follow.”

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