Breakaway roping is not only the fastest event in rodeo, it’s also the fastest growing sport in the industry today. With the recent addition of this event to the competition line up at some of the most important rodeos in the country, payouts are at record highs, and now cowgirls have more opportunity to show off their skills than ever before.

This action-packed, high-speed, timed event involves the handiest of cowgirls, big-stopping, athletic horses, and fast hard-running calves.

How It’s Done

The cowgirl begins her run by backing her horse into the roping box. Strapped across the front of this box is the rope barrier rigged to a breakaway collar on the calf inside the chute next to her. When the cowgirl nods her head to call for her calf, she must hold her horse back until the calf has reached a certain distance and the barrier is released. If the cowgirl beats her calf out of the box, then she has “broken the barrier,” and a ten second penalty will be added to her time. In this fast-paced event where a good run is under three short seconds, the cowgirl’s start may be the most important part of her run besides having a clean, legal catch.

After the barrier is released, the cowgirl then runs her horse out of the box and chases after her calf. She must rope her calf by the neck. Some of the best cowgirls can catch their calf in under three swings of their rope. When she has successfully caught her calf, she signals to her horse to stop, breaking the string attaching her rope to her saddle horn and allowing her calf to “breakaway.” At the end of her rope is a flag. When the rope flies through the air, the judge (also known as the flagger), looks for this as a sign to stop the clock for the cowgirl to receive her time. 

When winning comes down to fractions of a second, the rope you choose matters. Watch this video to learn more about the differences in calf ropes:

With so many different variations, it can be beneficial to have two or three different types of calf ropes in your rope can to choose from!

Here’s a few ropes we recommend you give a swing:

The Spitfire by Rattler Ropes

Designed with World Champions Jackie Crawford and Kelsie Chase, the Spitfire is the first rope of its kind. Specifically designed to reach and catch necks, this rope is made with technologically advanced fibers. From the very first swing, you can feel the body and the tip of this rope. The Spitfire is perfect for the aggressive, first-swing-shot-out-of-the-box roper.

The HOOey with CoreTx by Cactus Ropes

The HOOey you love just got a whole lot better with Cactus’s new CoreTx technology. With the feel of a grass rope in a straight poly, this rope has the least stretch and optimal body of any four-strand rope. It works wonders for ropers of all levels.

The Striker by Rattler Ropes

Striker Rattler Ropes Calf Rope by Rattler Ropes, $39.99, NRS.

The first four-strand calf rope with a CoreTech core, the Striker is the most consistent calf rope available. It is constructed from special synthetic polyester that will not stretch, increasing life and consistency. The four strands give the Striker a smoother, faster feel than a polygrass, and the core stabilizes it, allowing it to rebound to its natural state.

The Viper by Rattler Ropes

When five strands of low stretch poly fibers are woven around a solid braided core, you get speed and snap as quick as a viper’s strike, with more consistency and less stretch than any calf rope available. With the feel of your favorite polygrass and the strength and stability that only CoreTech can give—like a viper—it’s deadly accurate.

The Edge by Fast Back Ropes

Gain an edge over your competition with this four-strand white poly calf rope from Fast Back. Woven from 100% American-made texturized poly fiber, this low maintenance rope stays true in all weather conditions. The rope is known for its durability; after breaking in, there is very little stretch. It’s smooth and quick with a lot of action.

Your rope can make or break your breakaway run, so it’s important to get the right ones for you! Test out a few to see which ones best fit your style and swing.