I switched from heading steers to breakaway roping, and I'm here to tell you that if I can breakaway rope, anyone can. Making the switch takes time, a lot of repetition both on the dummy and sled and a lot of live runs. We are used to instant gratification, but if I've learned one thing, it's to keep the pace of the process in perspective.
When I was learning to team rope, I went to a Jake Barnes and Clay O'Brien Cooper school. They taught me to rope right to left, so I had a flat loop, and I had to get pretty close to make that happen. When I started breakaway roping, I roped a lot of calves over the top of the head, and I didn't have much range.
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I had to work on changing the angle of my loop—going from a flat loop to getting my tip down. It's taken me five or six years to get my body in the right spot to make that happen.
Body Position: I've got to stay up all the way through my throw and not sit down. In this photo at the top of the page, I'm still up all the way through my throw, and I'm about to sit down with my slack. Staying up through my throw is what keeps the angle of my loop pointed down, and what ultimately prevents me from roping the top of the calf's head.
Feet: My feet are behind me—not up by the saddle but back at about a 45-degree angle. That pushes me forward in my saddle and helps me stay up.
Head: I want to keep my head down. That helps me follow through and helps keep my shoulders down.
Shoulders: I want my shoulders down, too. That helps me follow through to keep my tip down, and that keeps my body down so my hand can get to my coil.
Left Hand: If my left hand is over the middle of my horse's neck, that keeps the front of my body at a forward angle to keep my right hand in front of my slack to finish my run faster.
We can get so discouraged if improvement and change don't happen instantly, but breakaway roping is so competitive and will only get more so. I spent countless hours on the dummy and on my horse working on all of this. But like I said, if I can be a breakaway roper, anyone can. BRJ