The rodeo season has flown by faster than ever. There have been many exciting things going on this year and although barrel racing is my main focus, the breakaway roping has been one of my highlights. Roping has been such a great addition to not only my year, but for the sport of rodeo as a whole. I am looking forward to seeing what will happen in the months and years to come with this event. 

Some people are surprised to find out I rope. I grew up in a team roping family, so I learned to rope at a pretty young age. I team roped and breakaway roped all through high school, college and amateur rodeo. I have always gravitated toward the rodeo world as opposed to the jackpots. When I started professional barrel racing, roping got put on the back burner because there weren’t too many opportunities to rope and barrel race at the same places. After college I felt like my roping career was over, because there was nowhere else to advance. This year was really the first time I could actually do both events in the same capacity. 

Roping this year reminded me of a couple things. No. 1, it is a lot of fun! It has been such a good change of pace for me. Getting my mind thinking about something else besides barrel racing has been really healthy for me.  No. 2, it is so good for the horses. Since barrel racing took over my life I had forgotten how we started as a rodeo family, and that was by roping.  Roping is how we got our horses broke. My dad might be known for training some great barrel horses, but little do people know that all of our horses were rope horses first—even Sister.          

This year I have been roping on one of our horses we call “Striker.”  He is old faithful for everyone on the ranch. He is the kid horse, the old man horse, the mom horse, and now the breakaway horse. We were both pretty rusty when we started this spring, but we are slowly getting back in shape.  Despite us both being poorly prepared, he carried me to some big moments this year and because of those wins, we got invited to rope at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo in San Juan Capistrano. Since this rodeo has been on my bucket list, I decided to give Sister the week off and go rope. This is a rodeo I have always wanted to go to but have never had the opportunity until now.  

Breakaway has been a fun thing to be a part of and to watch evolve this year. Adding another women’s event has been long overdue. There are so many girls who want to compete, and aside from amateur rodeos, there hasn’t been anywhere for them to go until the last couple years. I really enjoyed watching the progress this year, and I hope there will be many more opportunities in the future. For now, Striker and I are on to San Juan and we will be looking forward to next year.   


Nellie Miller is the 2017 WPRA World Champion and rode her home-raised and -trained 11-year-old mare Rafter W Minnie Reba (KS Cash N Fame x Espuela Roan x Blue Light Ike) - affectionately known as "Sister" - to the title. Miller has amassed $625,517 in Equi-Stat recording lifetime earnings. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

1 Comment

  1. Roping really seems another new exciting addition to the challenges. Looks pretty simple yet requires a lot of practice.

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