Two Saddles Both Alike in Dignity

Making the Leap From English Saddle to Team Roping
Arizona team roper and hunter/jumper trainer Georgie Murray is conquering the divide between her English and Western disciplines.
Georgie Murray and Michael Brockett team roping
Georgie Murray heads for her boyfriend Michael Brockett in the #8.5 WSTR qualifier at Rancho Rio in October of 2022. | Andersen/CBarC Photography

Growing up in a family filled with professional hunter/jumpers, Arizona’s Georgie Murray was destined to make a career in the English riding industry. 

“I was basically on a horse before I could walk,” said Murray, 36.

With years of experience and the help of her mom, Audrey Murray, Georgie has been running her own operation, Dapple Gray Farm, in Rio Verde, Arizona, for the past 10 years. There, roughly 30 horses are in training, countless amounts of lessons are given and clients are accompanied as they travel the horse show circuits. 

“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. We have people where we start them from their very first riding lesson and all the way to competing at the highest level.”

Murray’s personal fulfillment for competing happened at a young age—15 years old to be exact—when she won her first Grand Prix event on a then-17-year-old gelding named Amman. 

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“This particular horse that I did that with was bought for another client in the barn and that kid ended up quitting riding or something, so I basically got to ride the horse until he was sold. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be able to show him in the Grand Prix. He got me my first win and that was fun. He was totally experienced, and I was just along for the ride.”

Murray has since found herself in the winner’s circle more than once and continues to find great joy in her students’ accomplishments. 

Show jumping isn’t the only thing that keeps Murray busy. Though her strongest roots are in an English saddle, she has a passion for the Western industry through her dad, C.E. Murray, who is a “cowboy guy” with previous bull riding and roping experiences.

“When we moved to Arizona, my dad basically stopped team roping,” Murray said. “I had been around it a little bit through him but, at that point, all I wanted to do was ride jumping horses.”

Murray decided she needed a hobby outside of English riding. Her love for horses and riding and the two worlds in which she was brought up transitioned into becoming the bridge between the English and Western industries. 

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“I figured I needed to get more well-rounded. Roping is obviously huge, so I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll give team roping a try,’” said Murray, who has now been swinging a rope for three years. “I got my dad’s dummy out and started swinging the rope…My dad would give me some pointers and then it spiraled from there.”

Murray had plenty of critics.

“When I made it a little more public that I wanted to learn how to rope, people were like, ‘Why do you want to do that? That’s a dumb idea.’ It just motivated me more, like, ‘I want to show you that I can do it.’

“I hate that the two worlds are so separate,” she continued. “I think we can all learn from each other. That was a big motivator for me, too.” 

Murray in a Grand Prix competition aboard Snowball, the 17-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred she purchased as a 7-year-old. | Courtesy Georgie Murray / High Desert Sport

Despite the noise, Murray began taking lessons with team roping trainer Travis Ericsson, who lives five minutes from her. 

“He started me out on the sled—we did that a long time. Then I finally progressed to roping live cattle.”

Murray notes that learning to rope has been humbling and frustrating, but rewarding.

“There’s been things I’ve learned in roping that I’m like, ‘I could really take this and apply it to the jumping and it can make me better.’ Then there’s things from the jumping that I can apply to the roping, too.”

Murray just might be the political game changer to make the industries officially collide.

“It would be cool if the English and Western industries crossed over more because everyone can learn from each other. I think we all get into these sports because we love horses. It doesn’t matter if you’re in an English saddle or a Western saddle, riding is a good environment and a good way to spend your free time.” TRJ

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