A 5’1” cowgirl backs her horse into the box and gives the nod for the calf in the chute next to her to be released. Her name is Amber Crawford, the event is the American, and just one year ago, she and her fellow competitors were watching from the sidelines.
The American in Arlington, Texas, is one of numerous rodeos to have added this fast paced, action-packed event to their lineup. Opportunities are on the rise for those in breakaway roping, including the Daddy of ‘Em All in Cheyenne, Wyo., the Pendleton Round-up in Oregon and the Days of 47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City, Utah. Not only are the events making room for female competitors, but the payouts also are on the rise.
“It has grown so much. Just five years ago I would flat out say I worked full time hours so I could rope. Now it is crazy because it is becoming where I can almost do the opposite; that is how much it has grown and the opportunities, if we promote them and do right by what people and rodeo committees are offering us, are going to keep growing,” Amber said.
The Springtown, Texas, cowgirl got her start in roping at an early age. Amber was born and raised in Combine, Texas, in Kaufman County, the daughter of Dickie and Fran Singleton. Dickie was a bulldogger and later on competed in team roping, while Fran competed in western pleasure, cutting and barrel racing.
“I have been on a horse all my life. I can remember those home videos of my parents throwing me on a horse with no shoes, no shirt, a diaper on and just taking off across the pasture. We have always been around horses. I
grew up riding barrel horses and going to the Josey Ranch. We lived out there, so any weekend they had a clinic or barrel race, we were there,” Amber recalled. “My sister started roping at a later age when she started competing in high school rodeo, and here I am at five or six wanting to do whatever she does, so I pick up a rope.”
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