Roping cowgirls earning breaks

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Cinch endorsees make up more than a third of breakaway-roping field

The top dogs in any sport always wear the biggest targets.

In breakaway roping, Cinch cowgirls Shelby Boisjoli and Martha Angelone have everyone else’s sights set directly at them. Both have qualified for every National Finals Breakaway Roping since the event was established in 2020.

But Boisjoli is the No. 1 roper in the land, having wrapped up her regular season with $164,549 in earnings. Angelone is the defending champion; her Montana Silversmiths gold buckle is the shiniest of all who wear one. That’s why the bullseyes are on their backs, and the other girls have their rifles aimed

The shots will be fired during two days of competition, set for 2 p.m. Pacific Tuesday, Dec. 5, and Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas. Just like the National Finals Rodeo, which begins Thursday, Dec. 7, the ropers will compete through 10 rounds. When the dust settles on the two-day competition, the newest WPRA world champion will be crowned.

“I wanted to go in No. 1 again ever since 2021,” said Boisjoli, originally from Langdon, Alberta, but now living near Stephenville, Texas, with her husband, tie-down roping world champion Haven Meged. “That year I went in No. 1 and felt like I had a chance to win the world. I messed up. Ever since, I just wanted to come in No. 1 and prove that I can correct those mistakes and do it.

“At the beginning of (this) year, I didn’t see me going into the finals No. 1, but it’s crazy how it happened. Now, my goal is to not beat myself when I get to the finals.”

She’ll have 14 other ladies waiting in the wings for their opportunities. Go-round winners will earn $5,080, and the aggregate champion will collect $13,866. There are plenty of opportunities to increase their 2023 salaries while in Las Vegas.

While Boisjoli leads the Cinch contingent, Angelone, also of Stephenville, is third with $132,885. Taylor Munsell, the 2022 reserve world champion from Alva, Oklahoma, is seventh with $108,458. Of the top 15 in the world standings, seven earned more than $100,000 in the regular season.

First-time NFBR qualifier Bradi Good of Abilene, Texas, enters the finale eighth in the standings, followed by Cheyanne McCartney of Kingston, Oklahoma, in ninth. Johnson, who won three world titles before the breakaway finals was established four seasons ago, is from Fowler, Colorado, and hasn’t missed the finals yet.

“I ended up making it hard on myself to make the finals this year, but I’m really excited to be going back,” said Johnson, who finished fifth in the world standings each of the past two years. “I know everybody goes through slumps and fights their way through. I was fighting my head and fighting my desire not to be gone from home.

“The mental game comes into play all the time. When you’re craving it, loving it and having fun, that’s when you perform your best.”

Her key to making it back to the championship?

“It was just sheer determination,” she said. “I am not a quitter, and I hate to lose. I was desperate to make it because if I didn’t, then all the sacrifices I made to be gone from home all year were for nothing. I’d been away from the kids and away from home and all that strain that comes with it, so I felt that if I didn’t pull through, it would be such a waste.

“My husband, Darnell, pretty much dropped everything for the month of September to go along with me and help me because I really needed it.”

It paid off. Having a strong support system is vital for people who travel a good portion of every season in order to make the rodeo life work. Brandi Good understands that as well as anyone. Her father, Shay, is a four-time qualifier to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Rodeo, and he’s been passing along his knowledge to his daughter.

Good realizes there is something special about earning a spot among this elite field.

“This is going to be super tough,” she said. “There were a lot of breakaway ropers this year at every rodeo, and I think the cream rose to the top. It was a really tough year. Shelby had the most fun; she set the season-earnings record, but it was fun to be around that. There was a lot of money that we won this year, and it’s pretty cool that I get the chance to rope with all these girls.”

While Good is one of four newcomers to the finale, Johnson is a veteran who first won WPRA gold in 2011. She will be roping against cowgirls who are two decades younger. That’s where the mental approach gives Johson a bit of an edge.

“I feel like you just have to take it one calf at a time, one round at a time, and you can’t get ahead of yourself,” she said. “You just have to do the best you can with every single calf you draw and see where you land from there.”

It comes down to making sure all the fine details are covered and understanding the basics of roping calves.

“I think horsepower and consistency are going to be the keys just because we have to go five in a row back to back,” Good said. “You don’t want your horses to get tired or make us do things where we can’t do our jobs.

“As for my game plan, it’s just to go out there and try to win the average because that pays the most.”  

In a year that featured unprecedented earnings, Boisjoli came out on top. She has a $20,000 lead over the field and can just extend that advantage while in Sin City. To have so many ladies earn six figures indicates some big things are happening in breakaway roping.

“It shows how so many girls can keep winning over and over again,” Boisjoli said. “I can’t wait to see where the money will be when they add equal money everywhere.”


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