Tiffany Schieck is battling it out on the bubble with a real shot at making the National Finals of Breakaway Roping in November, but she certainly is one contender who didn’t grow up with gold buckle dreams.
“I didn’t even know what the NFR was until I got to college,” Schieck, 29, said. “We went to junior rodeos and stuff, but to us the amateur rodeos that came into town were big rodeos. We didn’t know there was a whole other world of people going down the road like carnies trying to make this ‘NFR.'”
Ironically, South Texas-native Schieck went from not knowing what the NFR was to now sitting No. 19 in the WPRA world standings, just about $4,000 from a National Finals of Breakaway Roping qualification position, and only $3,000 behind Josie Conner in the running for the Resistol Rookie title. Schieck’s current success is a stark contrast from her early career in rodeo.
“I didn’t even go to High School Rodeo State Finals,” Schieck said. “I think one year I could have gone, but I didn’t even know it was a big deal.”
“My first mare was named Mare,” Schieck laughed. “She taught me how to rope. My parents probably didn’t spend $2,000 on her—we just ride cheap horses, I guess.”
Next up was a Paint horse that carried Schieck to a collegiate scholarship at Trinity Valley College, and later to Frank Phillips College.
“He was not fun to rope off of, honestly,” Schieck admitted. “He would short you like nobody’s business, but he sure made me appreciate the good ones once I got on them.”
The ‘good ones’ came after Schieck met her now husband, Matt—a team roper who had the fundamentals, horsepower and patience that helped Tiffany elevate her roping.
“I met Matt my second year of college,” Schieck said. “He had (Mercedes) that is my backup horse still, today, and he told me I needed to get off my Paint and on a step-up horse.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I almost fell off of that dang girl. I ended up on the back of my saddle so many times because she would just blow me out. Transitioning from the paint horse to Mercedes was so hard. He just kept telling me ‘You can do it,’ even though I wanted to throw my sucker in the dirt so many times.”
Schieck continued to work at her breakaway roping and later married Matt. A job change in 2022 helped Schieck realize that her dreams of hitting the ProRodeo trail could become a reality in her rookie season.
“I work for WCRA Rodeo. I am the breakaway and tie-down rep for them. They’ve done wonders as far as the flexibility and allowing me to rodeo. I always had the office job that kept me away from home, never a true remote position. It’s really cool to be on the road with these girls and be able to talk to them about the WCRA.”
Schieck also recognizes the game-changer that the WCRA is for the youth of breakaway roping and other rodeo events.
“We’re going to have a $200,000 added rodeo just for the kids,” Schieck explained. “The great thing about is that you don’t have to be that kid that’s going to every big-name competition. You can go to the Lonestar Youth Rodeo Association deals like I did and nominate those, get points to go to this event and it will bring you into that world. I wish they had something like that when I was a kid so that we could have been opened up to everything a little bit more.”
So Schieck learned the skills and got the job that would make her rodeo dreams a reality, but with Mercedes semi-retired at 23, she needed a younger mount.
Luckily, Schieck had purchased a $2,000 palomino mare from friends down the road a few years ago. The skinny, funny-looking and front-end stopping mare wouldn’t be everybody’s pick as their next superstar, but Schieck grew to see the grade mare’s potential.
“We headed off her a little bit, then I needed a practice horse for breakaway and started using her,” Schieck said. “I never took her seriously until last year when I started hauling her and tuning her up.”
Schieck initially laughed at the thought of her “donkey,” becoming her first string, but the mare behaved like an old veteran from her first amateur rodeo.
“The first rodeo we took her to, she couldn’t have cared less about anything,” Schieck said. “She was practically sleeping beforehand, backed in the box perfect, ran straight and went back and just relaxed.”
A year later, Schieck was standing on stage with Cheyenne Frontier Days Co-Champion, Macy Young, accepting her win at the Daddy of ‘Em All.
Schieck is soaking in the experiences on the ProRodeo trail, and wishes she could tell her younger self some advice about the famed ropers she is warming up in the back pens with.
“The biggest thing is that you shouldn’t be intimidated,” Schieck said. “They’re just like you. They go through all the same struggles that you go through.”