In her blood
From NHSFR Champion to WRWC Contender: Kieley Walz’s Rodeo Journey Soars

Kieley Walz is a name to remember in the breakaway pen, and she has set her eyes on the 2024 Women's Rodeo World Championship in Arlington, Texas.

Kieley Walz is proving dominant from the National High School Rodeo Finals to WRWC qualifiers.
Kieley Walz is proving dominant from the National High School Rodeo Finals to WRWC qualifiers. Photo courtesy Walz

Kieley Walz was born to rope, and the 17-year-old has been cleaning house everywhere from the 2023 National High School Finals Rodeo to Arizona jackpots aboard family bred horse “Belle.”

“I live for the jackpots,” Walz admitted. “I will go five times a week when we’re in Arizona.”

Though her family lives in Ainsworth, Nebraska, they spend several months each winter in Wittman, Arizona, the burgeoning mecca for winter breakaway roping.

“She loves it,” her mother, Sonya, said. “When she backs in the box, I’m the nervous one. I don’t care if she wins but you want them to do good. But Kieley? She’s got ice water in her veins.”

Kieley Walz is born to breakaway

The love of roping is definitely hereditary for Kieley.

“My mom was a really, really good roper and she helps me a lot,” she said. Sonya went to the high school and college finals and picked up a few Mid-States Rodeo Association titles but has focused more on barrel racing recently.

“And I only learned a little while ago that my dad was a PRCA team roper,” she said of Jim, a former qualifier to the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo.

What does this driven teenager like to do outside of the arena?

“I like roping the dummy,” she offered. “I don’t want to say I’m boring but . . . I mean, I’ll go out with my friends some, but I don’t have hobbies.”

During her months in Arizona, you won’t even find her on her phone except at night, after the sun has set and the horses are all put away.

Plenty of Good Horseflesh

Walz Performance Horses is a family production with everyone pitching in to help.

“We send them out to be started . . . we’re no colt trainers,” Walz joked. “But once they’re broke to ride, we do it all.”

Walz enjoys the process of training and seasoning young horses.

“I like the feeling, when a horse is coming along and learning,” Walz said. “It’s good.”

Plus, the family business means plenty of horses available for roping.

“We have so many, I don’t know what to do with them all,” she laughed. “But it’s nice with the frequency of the jackpots, you can go more and not worry that you’re hurting a horse.”

Kieley Walz ropes on family-bred "Belle" at the National High School Rodeo Finals.
Kieley Walz ropes on family-bred “Belle” at the National High School Rodeo Finals. Photo courtesy Walz

Last July, Walz rode her favorite mare, I Love Firefighters, aka Bella, to the National High School title. She won two of three go rounds, roping three calves in 6.19 seconds.

“My main horse is Bella, she’s by our stud IMA Firefighter,” Walz said. “She’s my favorite, she’s so sweet. She’s like a dog. When I got out into the pasture, she’ll coming running up to me and follow me around.”

But in the arena, Belle is just like her rider, all business.

“She breaks so hard and really hunts a calf. She loves her job,” Walz said. “But if I touch the reins, she’ll stop. It’s like she’s saying, if you won’t let me do what I want to do, then I’m done.”

Along with the breakaway, Walz competes in barrels, poles, team roping and reined cow horse.

“No goats,” she said. She leaves that to Kinsey. “My knees aren’t good plus I don’t think I could beat her, and no one wants to get beat by their little sister!”

The Next Stage

Walz is weighing her prospects for college and plans to head into ProRodeo as well. She’ll turn eighteen in late March. She plans on finishing school before rodeoing full time and has an eye on an ag related degree.

“I think I’d like to be a horse insurance agent,” she mused. “My dad does crop insurance, but I have zero interest in staring at corn all day. But definitely keep it in ag.”

In the meantime, she’s discovered the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA).

“A friend of mine told me about it at the Downtown Arena,” Walz noted of the Women’s Rodeo World Championship (WRWC) Qualifier Series Event held annually on New Year’s Day in Wickenburg.

Not only was Walz the high money winner of the day, she also roped her way to the average win in the Challenger Division breakaway, earning an automatic invite to the 2024 WRWC in Fort Worth in May.

“I’m so excited,” she said. “Of all the things to go to, I went to Vegas in December, but I am the most excited for that.”

The WRWC is the world’s most lucrative all women’s rodeo event with a guaranteed payoff of $750,000 in barrel racing, breakaway roping and team roping—the latter being a “very close second” to breakaway as Walz’s favorite event.

“There will be so many competitors there, the best of the best,” she noted. “I can’t wait to go rope with them.”

Thanks to some strategic nominating, Walz is currently leading the WRWC Challenger Leaderboard standings. She’s also ranked inside the top 10 on the Rodeo Corpus Christie Leaderboard, the WCRA event that will serve as the qualifying event for the WCRA’s Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo team, the Free Riders.

“I’m ninety-nine percent sure I’m going there,” she said. “It all sounds like so much fun.”

The new opportunities via the WCRA may conflict with a few high school rodeos but as the reigning National Champ, Walz feels she’s accomplished the most she can out of high school rodeo and is ready for new adventures.

“Breakaway is a good thing to be in right now,” Walz said. “The opportunities are endless.”

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