Those Idaho girls know how to get it done, as they again proved by winning January’s Art of the Cowgirl Ranch Rodeo in Phoenix, Arizona, where the team competed as The Idaho Girls. The win follows a four-year World Champion run in the Western States Ranch Rodeo Association’s women’s division, where the team competes as Miller Livestock.
“We got together four years ago,” said Ariat World Series of Team Roping member Katie McFarlane.
“We’re all here in Idaho, but each of us are about an hour away from each other. It’s just not something we practice. We all have cattle and we ranch and brand. We do stuff all the time like that. And we just kind of click together.”
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McFarlane and her teammates are already qualified for the WSRRA National Finals in Winnemucca, Nevada, come November. In Phoenix, the team competed against more than 40 other all-women teams in four different events: An Elite Ranch Horse class, team roping, branding and sorting.
Ranch team roping can get real Western real quick when six animals and four cowgirls slinging ropes and gunning for a fast time are turned loose in the arena. Miller Livestock managed their animals and ropes well, but other teams were forced to drop their dallies in end-of-the-line, last-ditch efforts not to clothesline each other.
“You kind of want to have the best plan,” McFarlane said. “We always try to get our cows going in the same direction because it can happen fast, and you don’t see somebody else coming straight at you. I’m always the first header. I head it and try to get out of their way. You try to look out of the corner of your eye and pay attention.”
Despite ranch rodeo being designed to celebrate real, working ranch skills, the way it all plays out in the rodeo arena is generally a far cry from how it all happens on the home ranch.
“At home, you’re supposed to go slow and take care of the cattle, but at ranch rodeo, all that goes out the window,” McFarlane said. “You just go for the fastest time. It’s a rush and it’s fun.”
Chasing that fast time can get a horse pretty worked up after a few competitions, said McFarlane, who raises horses with her husband, Jerad.
“All of our horses over the years have taken it very well. Ranch rodeos are different because sometimes, you’re doing four and five events in one day and it’s always a blow the whistle or drop the flag and run as fast as you can [situation], so [the horses] get a little charge-y at the line. I don’t necessarily rope more for the ranch rodeos, I just ride them a lot more because you want your horse broke and in control.”
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Handily, McFarlane has a mount that can handle transitioning from ranch work to ranch rodeo to team roping.
“I took a young one this year to the [WSRRA] Finals. It’s the same one I took down there to Art of the Cowgirl, and he’s the one that I will rope in the World Series [qualifiers] on.”
McFarlane, a 5.5/4 switch-ender, team roped some as a college rodeo athlete, but really got into it when she and Jerad, who was a bronc rider, decided team roping would be a great way to get their up-and-coming horses the visibility they needed.
“We actually live about five minutes away from an indoor arena in Homedale, and we help put on ropings. Our kids are roping, so we take them every single weekend. Our daughter’s 13, and we have twin boys that are 12. One of my twins just won the roping heading this weekend, so we are super stoked for him. It’s his first first-place check. He’s been placing along, but this was a good win.”
With her kids and her horses coming along, McFarlane—who won some money in Las Vegas at the 2016 Finale and, more recently, took second and a fast time in the 2019 Mathews Land and Cattle Outdoor Qualifier’s #14.5, both on the head side—wouldn’t mind clinching her own big win in the team roping arena.
“I’d obviously like to really win big at the [WSTR] Finale one year. I did good this year outside, so that was nice to bring home some money from outside, but I want to bring home a big check.”