Gooding rodeo wins WPRA honor

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Community event being named Breakaway Trailblazer by women’s group

GOODING, Idaho – When breakaway roping began to be part of mainstream rodeo five seasons ago, there were ladies and events that set a tone.

The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association has continued to honor them. There are dozens of roping world champions like J.J. Hampton, Lari Dee Guy and Jackie Crawford that will be honored in halls of fame. There are events like The American, which placed breakaway roping onto one of rodeo’s biggest stages.

In Gooding, local organizers knew right away they wanted to be part of the electrifying action. They not only brought it to town with open arms, they treated it like all the standard events that have been part of the Gooding County Fair for many years.

That’s why the Gooding Pro Rodeo will be the recipient of the WPRA’s Breakaway Trailblazer Award during a special ceremony in December at Las Vegas.

“The people in Gooding are doing something right,” said Taylor Munsell, a three-time National Finals Breakaway Roping qualifier from Alva, Oklahoma. “They’re one of the rodeos that at the every beginning were just full on board. They added the money. They had great calves, and they just made it work going to right off the bat.

“At the beginning, it was something that you had to go to because it paid so well, and they just continue to keep doing it and keep being a great place for us to come to.”

Look for that trend to continue. Breakaway roping has been around for decades, but it gained popularity in a hurry after it was featured in The American rodeo in 2019 in Arlington, Texas, when 16-year-old Madison Outhier won the title. The event’s popularity has continued to bloom, and the first NFBR took place in 2020.

The Gooding Pro Rodeo has been at the forefront of all that.

“That rodeo has been great ever since they added breakaway a few years ago, and they just keep adding money to it,” said Beau Peterson, a breakaway roping finalist from Council Grove, Kansas. “It can definitely make a big difference to your season. If you can win some money there, even get the win, it’s a great payout.

“My traveling partner has won that rodeo two times, and it dang sure solidified her trip to the finals last year. It’s a great rodeo. Especially in the breakaway roping, it’s one of the best.”

This year’s breakaway roping champions were Addy Hill and Braylee Shepherd, who stopped the clock in 1.9 seconds to share the title. Each cowgirl earned $5,500. That kind of cash goes a long ways, not only to cover bills and business expenses, but also in earning postseason qualifications.

In rodeo, dollars equal championship points. Of the 15 ladies that have earned the right to compete at the breakaway finals in December at Las Vegas, virtually all were in Gooding in August. The women who make a living in breakaway roping know how important it is to be in southern Idaho in mid-August.

“I’d say at most rodeos, most of them wanted to try out breakaway roping and see how it goes,” Munsell said. “They’d add just a little money, but in Gooding, they were like, ‘No, we support it. We’re going to do it.’

“They went all in with us, and we really appreciate it.”

That also is why the purse was so high. Each rodeo provides local dollars – called “added money” money in rodeo – which are pared with the contestants’ entry fees to make the overall payout per event. With two women earning a combined $11,000, it was the largest single-event payout in Gooding this year. There were dozens of cowgirls at the fairgrounds just for the opportunity for big cash.

“The people in Gooding treated us just like any other event and had a great deal of added money for us,” Peterson said. “I think them stepping up for us showed the other rodeos what the breakaway roping can bring to the table.”


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