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Breakaway roping makes RodeoHouston debut during Women's History Month

Texas native Taylor Hanchey, who formerly competed in barrel racing, is helping introduce Houstonians to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it rodeo event.

HOUSTON — Bull riding, barrel racing and team roping are some of the classic rodeo events you’ll see at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. But this year, there’s a new competition and it made its debut at the start of Women’s History Month.

"Breakaway roping isn't a new event to rodeo, but it is to RodeoHouston," says Texas native Taylor Hanchey. "We rope the calf around the neck. Our rope is tied to our saddle horn. As the slack comes off the rope, it pops off."

Along with the rope comes a flag, a signal for the watch to stop. All of that happens in just seconds.

"If you’re not paying attention, you’re going to miss it," Hanchey says. "I like that, that it’s just bam, bam and we’re done."

If Hanchey's name sound familiar, it's because she's competed at RodeoHouston before. 

"I had a great barrel horse that I came here and competed on. Then he got hurt, so I picked up my breakaway rope and started roping," says Hanchey.

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She adds that horses used for each event are a little different. Barrel horses, Hanchey notes, are bred for running and speed.

"Rope horses are geared for speed, but much more for the cow," she says. "They have to track the calf, so they’re bred to do that."

As a barrel racer, Hanchey came down the alley. Now she's shooting out of the box, trying to rope that calf in about 2 seconds.

"The training is just as much mental as it is physical, just because it does happen so fast that you just have to let instinct take over," says Hanchey.

She gets to do some of that training with her husband, world-champion tie-down roper Shane Hanchey.

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"(There's) very much a little bit of rivalry and competition, but it’s fun," Taylor Hanchey says. "It makes both of us better."

Clearly. Wednesday night, she advanced to the semifinals, which means she gets to introduce more people to breakaway roping.

"I think RodeoHouston brings a lot of non-rodeo fans, so we’re getting to be in front of people who haven’t seen rodeo much, but probably have never seen breakaway roping," Hanchey says. "It's exciting!"

The next time you can catch Taylor Hanchey competing in breakaway roping at RodeoHouston is on March 17.

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