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Breakaway Roping Has Been Added To The New Zealand Rodeo Circuit For The First Time

Breakaway Roping has been added to the New Zealand rodeo circuit for the first time after NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association (NZRCA) members overwhelmingly supported its inclusion as an official rodeo event.

A remit to introduce Breakaway Roping for junior and women contestants was adopted by a significant majority at the NZRCA’s recent AGM, NZRCA president Lyal Cocks said.

Breakaway roping is an exciting, fast event in which the contestant on horseback endeavours to lasso a steer on the run. Once lassoed, the contestant stops their horse while the steer keeps running. The lasso, which is attached to the saddle horn by string, is pulled tight and the string breaks, marking the end of the run.

While breakaway roping is well-known overseas and has been in practice for many years in the bi-annual Australasian High School Rodeo Challenge, demonstrations of the event were introduced to the NZ rodeo circuit only last season as an exhibition event. For the first year it will be an optional event for Clubs to run at their rodeos, but eventually is expected to become a permanent event.

The event is restricted to juniors (under 15 years) and women in order to provide another competitive event for these two groups, Lyal said. Women compete in barrel racing and team roping but need approval to compete in the other events; similarly, juniors can compete in steer riding and barrel racing.

Membership of the NZRCA has remained steady in recent years but the number of women and juniors members has increased significantly. Last season almost 300 women (43 per cent of all contestants) competed on the rodeo circuit; 98 Juniors (15 per cent of contestants) also competed.

Training clinics for prospective Breakaway roping contestants are now being run throughout the country. Roping expert Brent Crowe has hosted clinics at his arena in North Canterbury. He said the attitude and enthusiasm shown by those wanting to break into the event is impressive. Some of the contestants attending my clinics are displaying lots of potential and will do really well in this event with further training, he said.

Successful barrel racer Chanelle Dickie attended one of Brent’s clinics. She said she loves breakaway roping as it gives her young barrel horse another purpose and more arena exposure to better prepare her for future events.

At this time under the current COVID-19 alert level 1, the NZRCA has decided to proceed with a regular season of scheduled rodeos throughout the country, culminating in the national championship finals which will be held in Taupo, Lyal said.

The 2020/21 rodeo season kicks off at Labour Weekend with rodeos at Winchester and Methven and will run until March next year.

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