5 Tips from Salinas Champ Josey Murphy on Longer Scores in Breakaway Roping

Longer scores in breakaway roping can be tough, but they don't have to be.

A breakaway roper prepares to rope at a rodeo.
Josey Murphy is one of the 24 breakaway ropers competing in Puyallup. BRJ File photo.

Josey Murphy won the prestigious breakaway at California Rodeo Salinas on July 23, 2023, with a masterful display of scoring, putting together a 13.3 second aggregate on three head before a slam dunk 4.1-second run in the short go to collected her a total of $6,937.

The score at Salinas is long—and the girls rope from head box. Walk through Murphy’s methods for preparing a horse to score in breakaway roping no matter the location.

1. Get in the box

I really like to get my horses in the box if they’re having a slack or before a perf. Horses are going to get nervous. They’re animals, just like we’re human. I try to get in there and pet them and love on them, even if it’s just for a minute or two.

It can be easy to get worked up in the box, but I’ll walk them in figure eights and mess with them. Not pick on them, but let them be free and more around.

2. Stay relaxed

You have to be relaxed in a longer setup. I pack my rope out there and chase them down before I start to swing, so, in my mind, knowing I don’t have to be a 2.2 to win something gives me more time to think and react.

3. Don’t linger when it’s showtime

If my calf is not good in the chute, I want to get in there and get out as fast as I can. I honestly think the longer you’re in the box, the worse it gets. I think horses and calves get more nervous and I think your mind starts roaming on different scenarios.

4. Don’t look for perfection

I don’t like for things to be perfect. As long as my calf is looking and my horse is good, then I am going to nod. Perfect drives everyone insane. If you’re waiting for your horse to be straight, calf looking, gate man looking, you’ll go crazy. So good enough is good for me.

5. Grab saddle horn if needed

I grabbed the saddle horn on all three runs at Salinas. It gives me comfort and the patience to watch the calf and see what he’s going to do. Plus, my horse can run, so getting to the calf doesn’t worry me. BRJ

The Breakaway Roping Journal is the source for event coverage and results, training tips and stories on top ropers and horses in the breakaway business.