TKHS Freshman Speeds into Rodeo Success

The Thornapple Kellogg High School freshman has found her place in the rodeo world and is excelling in the breakaway roping contest. “It’s a high adrenaline rush. I absolutely love it. You never really know what’s going to happen,” said Adalyn.

Breakaway roping involves a single rider who chases and ropes a calf. Once the calf is roped a small piece of kite string tied to the saddle is broken off, stopping the timer. The goal, of course, is to rope the calf in the fastest time possible.

Adalyn recently won Reserve Champion Breakaway Roper in the 16 and younger category at the Ruby Buckle in Oklahoma. The Ruby Buckle is a national-level competition and a big win for Adalyn since it was her first national-level competition. Not only did she finish runner-up in her division, but she also finished 18th overall among more than 50 competitors of all ages, some of whom have been competing for years.

Her success started in 2022, she won the overall breakaway roping championship in the junior high school division of the Michigan High School Rodeo Association. From there, she has continued to gain speed, accuracy and success. Still, she surprised herself with how well she did at the Ruby Buckle. 

“I was very shocked. There are girls there who have world champions titles in breakaway. For me to place that high was very shocking and humbling,” she said. 

Adalyn said she’s always loved horses but didn’t get her own horse until around 2017. By 2020 she started going to shows where she connected with others who encouraged her to compete in the high school rodeos. In addition to breakaway roping, she also competes in barrel racing, goat tying, and pole bending, but the breakaway, with this only being her third year in this competition, has become her favorite. 

Breakaway roping takes a lot of practice on and off the horse combining riding skills, understanding and trusting the horse, and accuracy and timing in throwing a rope. “When I first started the breakaway, I hated it. I absolutely hated it. I couldn’t catch (rope the calf) and I just wasn't having any luck with it all. But then I started working with my trainer Lori Fackler, and it really helped me prosper in breakaway roping. I’ve been having some pretty good runs now and I'm really liking it. I’m glad I didn’t give up on it,” she said. 

When she makes her run, Adalyn said she doesn’t have time to think about much of anything. “Honestly 90 percent of the time, I nod my head and just go - and then it’s all a blur until we’re done. It’s a high adrenaline rush in just a few seconds. You have to have a lot of trust in yourself and in your horse,” she said.

She’s learned a lot about not giving up and understanding competition. “It’s a big mental game. And that’s the hardest part of it. You have to just stay calm and do what you know you can do. You can’t get anxious or jittery or the horse will feel that too. Mentally, I just have to pretend not to care and just go out and do what I know I can do, like I’m at home,” she said. 


She’s looking forward to continuing her rodeo competitions this summer following the Super Kicker Rodeo circuit to fairs and festivals throughout Michigan including the Barry County Fair in July. She also plans to compete out of state at larger shows drawing riders from all over the country. 


“My goal is in the next two or three years to get into an even bigger circuit and travel across the United States more. My end goal is to get to the National Finals Rodeo in a few years. That would be a big dream come true!”