The Basics
Breakaway Basics: A Horse’s First Time Out of the Box

Make your horse's first experience with box work a positive one.

Help your horse develop confidence with a slow, steady and positive introduction to the box.

A successful breakaway run starts with how you leave the box. Because box work is such a critical component of the breakaway formula, taking the time train a breakaway roping horse to master the box pays off. In this practice session, Sarah Angelone takes a 4-year-old “Louie” out of the box for the first time, focusing on building his confidence. Watch the full video on

▶️ Watch the full video.

Here are seven tips to use in your home training program to introduce your horse to breakaway box work in a positive, effective way:

1. Use a score lane

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“I’ll use a score lane for their first time of the box and I’ll keep it up for a while. A score lane slows the calves down and slows the start down so there’s not so much pressure on the horse for their first time—even their first three months—out of the box.”

2. Take it slow and make it a positive experience

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“I’m not going to be too picky about how he’s standing or how much he backs up or if he’s crooked and all that. I’m just going to try to get him in the general location and go slow and easy with him today. I’m going to let on him a bunch and just make the box a happy place for him.”

3. Focus on going forward

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“When I first start them out of the box, I just want forward motion. I’m not worried about him being in the corner. When my hand goes down, I just want to learn that means we go forward. I’m not worried about him being in the corner; as long as the horse is going forward, you’re good. I don’t start them from the corner for at least the first month. I always start them walking until I feel that they will go off my hand.”

4. Don’t pick a fight

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“Louie has never been great at backing up. I just don’t jack with it because the more you pick a fight, the less they’re going to want to be in the box. And you want it to be a safe place for the horse, not a place where they expect to get kicked and pulled on. I don’t let him get away with everything, but I’m easy with him and don’t pick on him about the little stuff.”

5. Getting used to the chute

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“If you want to get your horse used to the chute, tie him by the chute. I like to open and chute the chute when horse is beside it, too. I think the more you can expose them to the sound and the noises, the better you’re going to set them up for a rodeo. I like to get them used to everything I can before I take them anywhere.”

Build a strong foundation in breakaway roping with’s library of training videos for breakaway beginners. Learn the basics with the complete Breakaway Fundamentals playlist.

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