Kelsie Domer’s 3 Tips for a Solid Breakaway Mental Gameplan

Rodeo is about controlling known factors and preparing well for the unknowns. Kelsie Domer follows three main ideas to give herself the best chance of success amid tough competition.

Kelsie Domer trots out of the arena following a winning run at the Ellensburg Rodeo.
Kelsie Domer trots out of the arena following a winning run at the Ellensburg Rodeo. Photo by Roseanna Sales.

Kelsie Domer has encountered the challenges of the rodeo road firsthand and honed her breakaway mental game to focus on controlling what she can and setting herself up for success on the rest.

Two-time National Finals Breakaway roper Domer is never one to count out, no matter the leading time. Known for her businesslike personality in the rodeo arena and gunslinging roping style, Domer is entering her second NFBR sitting No. 5 with $112,281 earned so far.

The Breakaway Roping Journal caught up to Domer in early September following a stellar weekend that saw her win both Walla Walla Frontier Days and the Ellensburg Rodeo in Washington, raking in a total of $12,707.

Despite her success in early September, Domer was quick to admit that the prior week she hadn’t won much—and she used the following tips to get her back on track.

No. 3 Know how to withstand hard times

“Ups and downs are going to happen, no matter how much you try to avoid it,” Domer said. “You’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing. I think something that hurts you is when you don’t do well for a couple of runs and then you try to change things. Really, if you keep trusting the process, things are going to turn around. You probably didn’t forget how to rope—things just didn’t go your way.”

Domer said one of her favorite reminders for fellow ropers is ‘The rules don’t change rodeo to rodeo.’ It’s a calf, start, barrier and bell-collar catch.

“We have to focus on the steps,” Domer said. “Each step out of the run has to happen no matter where you’re at.”

No. 2 Prioritize leaving the box

As the sport of breakaway progresses, Domer stresses the importance of getting a solid go out of the box. In her eyes, she’d rather break the barrier trying to win something than come out of the box timidly and catch with a time out of the money.

“These days you can’t just be smart, score good and go get him roped because there are 100 other girls behind you that can do that too,” Domer said. “I want to be on the barrier every single time.”

No. 1 Treat unknown calves as “the best one”

Calves are a large part of breakaway run strategy, and ropers can get psyched out if there aren’t notes on the calves. Domer’s solution is to take a good run at the calf no matter what.  

“I tell myself he’s the best one,” Domer said. “I’m not going to sit in the corner and second-guess myself. I’m not going to say ‘What if he runs? What if he looks?’ Because then I already have myself beat. What if he was the best one? You can’t control what that calf does. If the calf is walking, you probably weren’t going to win anything on it anyways. I am going to act like he’s the best one, know my start on a good one, and go for it.”

Domer’s breakaway mental game has served her well throughout the 2023 ProRodeo season. Now, she’ll use it in the 10 go-rounds at the Nationals Finals Breakaway Roping in Las Vegas, which requires precision and blistering speed.

Find more information about the NFBR here.

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