EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a story that appears in the December 2013 edition of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is from the WPRA World Finals.
Hope Thompson trains horses and helps teach roping schools, so to say roping is her business is a bit of an understatement.
After a powerful performance during the WPRA World Finals at Waco, Texas, in October, she added a major claim to her business: the 2013 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Breakaway Roper.
“Lari Dee (Guy) and I travel all over doing schools and stuff, and now I am the WPRA world champion; it’s a big deal, not only for me, but for those people who go to our schools,” said Thompson, who works with Guy in Abilene, Texas. “I didn’t have it won going into the finals, so it was special that I won the world title there.”
Thompson placed in three of four go-rounds inside the Extracto Event Center, earning $1,257; that was just enough to stay ahead of Jackie Hobbs of Stephenville, Texas – Thompson won the world title by $93.
“In the first round, I two-looped my calf,” she said, explaining that her first throw just skimmed the top of the calf’s head and did not land, but the second did, securing a 22.7-second run. “I split the win in the second round and laced in the next two, so that put me up there.
“I was worried about passing all the people in front of me and not really worried about people behind me, but Jackie was behind me heading to the finals. She had a really good finals, and I had no idea that it was her coming in hot right behind me.”
Hobbs was in the hunt. In fact, the multiple-time world champion placed in three rounds, including the third-round victory. She also finished second in the average race, roping four calves in a cumulative time of 10.3 seconds – WPRA rookie Whitney DeSalvo won the average title in 9.9.
“I was sitting at the table behind Jackie, and they called her name out as the reserve,” Thompson said. “She smiled and looked at me and said, ‘I was coming for you.’
“It came down to the last round. I had to place in the round, and I knew that. I didn’t know if I had to win it or if I had to win third, but I knew I had to win something in the round to even have a chance.”
So Thompson backed into the roping box atop 8 Track, a 12-year-old gelding. In 2.5 seconds, she stopped the clock and collected the third-place check. It was just enough.
“He won a lot of top horse or Horse of the Year this year,” she said of 8 Track. “He won horse of the roping at the Ross Churman Roping and won top horse at the TRCA Finals this year. He also won it at the UPRA Finals and at the CPRA Finals.”
The horse isn’t the only winner in the tandem, which is a pretty good indication of talent Thompson owns. Thompson’s success is an indication of the work she puts into her roping, especially since she doesn’t come from a rodeo family.
“My parents had horses just as pets and for fun,” she said, noting that she grew up in the east Texas community of Atlanta. “They took me to a play day when I was about 2 or three years old, and remember saying that I wanted to do that. We met some people that had a horse for sale, and I was at it from then on.”
She’s picked it up pretty well, but so has DeSalvo, 18, a freshman at Cossatot Community College in DeQueen, Ark. She finished the year fifth in the world standings with $3,465, most of which she earned in Waco. She won the opening round and shared the third-round victory with Hobbs. In all, she pocketed $2,693 during the WPRA World Finals.
“It was my first time to go there, but it was fun,” said DeSalvo, who, in July, was competing at the International Youth Finals Rodeo and the National High School Finals Rodeo. “From all the really good, handy ropers that were in there, it means a lot to be able to do that with all the people I roped against.
“It was pretty tough. Jackie Hobbs didn’t make it very easy on me.”
It’s not supposed to be easy, but DeSalvo has figured that out already at her young age, and she had help from a good horse, which she trained.
“She’d never had a calf roped on her. I roped six times on her before I went to the IFYR and the high school finals,” she said of Tootsie Roll, and 11-year-old sorrel mare.
Now the two are chasing WPRA glory.
“I don’t see myself doing anything else,” DeSalvo said. “I played other sports, but I would miss basketball games and softball games to rodeo. That’s something I’ve always loved to do.”