IPRA Champ Chaffin Joins Green Bay Charge
The breakaway roping business is booming, and Oklahoma’s Angela Chaffin is one of thousands of thrilled women and girls coast to coast who gets that—and loves it.
“Breakaway roping is completely blowing up, and that is absolutely awesome,” Chaffin said. “We’re all thankful to be a part of it. I don’t have a little girl, but my sister does. And I may have one of my own one day. My niece, Hazelynn, is 3 now. When I think of where breakaway roping might be in 10 more years—when she’s 13—it gives me goose bumps.”
The reigning International Professional Rodeo Association champ hit it hard enough to qualify for her first International Finals Rodeo in 2018. When the curtain closed on the first year-end title of her young career, the 25-year-old wife and mom was very pleasantly surprised to learn about the bonanza-sized bonus that awaited her and the rest of the IPRA’s finest. They all earned a prime-time position at the World Champions Rodeo Alliance’s $1 million Titletown Stampede, coming up June 1 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“I didn’t realize at first that it was a bye into the big show in Green Bay,” Chaffin said. “I thought it was to the ($500,000 WCRA) Semi Finals (which is coming up May 15-19 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma), which was still really exciting. I’m super pumped now. This is amazing.”
Some of breakaway roping’s most magical moments have been front and center in the rodeo spotlight in recent times. First, there was Jackie Crawford’s $50,000 win at the January 11 Windy City Roundup in Chicago. Then, on March 3, 16-year-old Madison Outhier left The American at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, $110,000 richer as both the junior and overall champ.
“I watched the American on TV, and seeing Madison win the biggest breakaway roping check ever written literally brought tears to my eyes,” Chaffin said. “I went to college with her cousin Amy (Outhier, who has since married and become Amy Maynard), and was good friends with her. So I sort of feel like I know Madison in a roundabout way. Watching her win that thing was, like, Holy Cow. It’s an amazing time to be a breakaway roper.”
Chaffin figures Green Bay will be about a 14-hour drive from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, which she calls home with her husband, Tyler, and little boy, Colter, who’ll turn 2 in May. Angela and Tyler both work for Chaffin family businesses. Angela works in the office of their Chaffin Tower Services, which is a cell-phone-tower company. Most of Tyler’s time is spent on the ranching side of the operation. He also ropes calves and team ropes in the IPRA, and has been working to add a third event—tie-down roping—to her breakaway horse’s repertoire, which already also includes heeling. Hitman’s 8 now, and they’ve had him since he was 2.
“He’s a character, but he’s my pride and joy,” Angela said of her trusty sorrel steed. “When we bought him I had another horse while we were training him. I sold the other horse two years ago, so Hitman had to step up. And he absolutely did. He’s been my go-to the last couple years. He’s really laid back, so we laugh about him being Colter’s horse, and Colter just lets me ride him.”
Green Bay will be Chaffin and Hitman’s first first-hand brush with the WCRA. But she’s been kept abreast of what’s up on the WCRA rodeo radar via her sister and brother-in-law, Michelle and Cole Wilson.
“Cole qualified for the WCRA Semi Finals in the tie-down roping last November in Guthrie,” Angela said. “I didn’t know much about the WCRA back then, so my sister was sort of scouting for me and telling me how it all worked. After the Semi Finals, she watched Chicago on TV, and reported back about how good of a deal it was.”
The week after the Windy City Roundup is when Angela’s IPRA crown came to pass, so the timing could not have been more perfect to receive such glowing reports. Chaffin and her family are “rodeo lifers.” The Chaffins and the Wilsons—who live four hours away in Kansas—both train a lot of horses.
“For lack of better words, rodeo is everything in our family,” Angela said. “It’s pretty much all my sister and I have done since we were very little. We mainly breakaway rope, but we also team rope some and have always had some barrel horses. Well, make that rope horses we’ve trained on the barrels.”
Wives. Moms. Breakaway ropers. Are there any of Angela’s peers that she looks up to above all others?
“Definitely my sister,” she said. “We’re all pretty equal. We all appreciate the ones who’ve stepped out on a limb to get breakaway roping moved up to such a high level. But the ones I admire most are in my family. They’re the ones who keep me going every day.”
Mother Nature has had something to say about a stepped-up practice schedule in anticipation of the stiff competition that awaits the Green Bay field.
“We’ve been in a complete monsoon season here in Oklahoma, so roping live cattle hasn’t really been an option,” Angela said. “We haven’t been able to set foot in our arena since October, so the main practice I get right now is roping the dummy. I’m hoping it will dry up and some actual runs will be possible. But I’m a firm believer in roping the dummy and staying sharp that way. If we had to leave for Green Bay today, I’d be confident.”
The most common word in every breakaway roper’s vocabulary here lately has got to be “grateful.”
“The opportunity to rope for $50,000 in one night is absolutely awesome,” Angela said. “That’s obviously a lot of money. And the WCRA’s setup is cool for both the contestants and the spectators. I really like the elimination-style format, where you have to keep staying alive to advance. In the end, you go for it, and I like slinging it with the rest of ’em. At the very end, it’s a head-to-head, one-on-one match. I like my odds when slinging it against one other girl. That’s good odds for anybody, and it’s really good watching for the fans.”