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'Everyone likes to root for the girls': Ladies breakaway roping added to Agribition rodeo

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The Canadian Western Agribition has added Ladies Breakaway Roping to the Maple Leaf Finals Rodeo for the first time.

“[Canadian Professional Rodeo Association] added it to their events as a full event to see how it was taken and it took off like crazy, people wanted it. So it just became natural to have it here,” said Marty Kratochvil, who is in charge of the rodeo on the Agribition’s Board of Directors.

Bailey Hines and Lakota Bird are among 10 breakaway ropers competing over four nights at the Maple Leaf Finals Rodeo. The top four competitors each night – Wednesday through Saturday – will earn prize money with the winner determined from an overall total.

“Traditionally after college there’s nowhere for breakaway ropers to compete because it hasn’t been an event in professional rodeo,” said Lakota Bird, one of this year’s breakaway roping competitor.

“The last couple of years, breakaway rope has started to emerge as an event in professional rodeo and as you’ll see it showcased here at Agribition, it’s just an exciting time for those of us who have been doing this for a long time.”

“The fact that we get to carry on and pursue this as a professional career is huge and for Regina to add this to Agribition is really just a blessing for all of us,” said breakaway roper Bailey Hines.

Prize money is given to those with the fastest average times over the four-day span.

Traditionally the only female rodeo event is barrel racing, but this gives the women another opportunity to compete. It is also the fastest growing event in the rodeo world.

“There’s not really any room for error or a lot of time to think about what’s happening. It takes a lot of practice and muscle memory,” said Bird.

“It’s another event for women to kind of feature their skills, talent, and horsemanship. Women have been roping for a long, long time but it’s kind of just recently picked up again,” said breakaway roper Brittainy Smith.

Breakaway roping is similar to the men’s tie down roping but with a few minor tweaks.

“In tie down roping, the guys are behind the same barriers, they rope the calf but then they dismount and tie the calf. In breakaway roping, after the calf is roped, it’s tied to our saddle with a string. So the string breaks and that’s when the time stops,” Bird explained.

The Maple Leaf Finals Rodeo begins Wednesday evening at the Brandt Centre. For spectators who look to take in the event, the women are more than excited to give the fans a show.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to come out here and showcase something that you know you grew up around,” said Smith.

“It’s enabled young girls growing up to be able to look forward to and prepare to compete professionally when they’re older,” said Bird.

“Everyone likes to root for the girls! I mean Barrel Racing is always a fan favourite because everyone loves rooting for the girls. And this is just another totally different event for girls,” Hines said.

“It’s fast. It’s really awesome horsemanship. Seeing the girls being able to rope like the guys is always exciting for the fans.”

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