Breakaway Roping Clinic To Highlight Horsemanship Training By All-Around Cowboy At EquiFest Of Kansas

By Frank J. Buchman
“The only way to connect with a horse is through their mind.”
Phil Haugen’s foundation horsemanship program centers on mentally keeping a horse trusting, secure and confident.
The Weatherford, Oklahoma, all-around cowboy, trainer and clinician, will present breakaway roping and horsemanship clinics at the EquiFest Of Kansas.
Sponsored by the Kansas horse Council (KHC), EquiFest is at the Saline County Livestock & Expo Center, Salina, March 18-19-20.
“However, Phil Haugen will come a day early, Thursday, March 17th, to present the breakaway roping clinic,” said Justine Staten.
As the KHC executive director, Staten pointed out that EquiFest offers education, entertainment and shopping for everybody with horse interests. “This is the 25th anniversary EquiFest which serves as the KHC’s main fundraiser. So we intend to make it the best ever,” Staten emphasized.
Growing up in North Dakota, Haugen said, “For several generations, my family has been heavily involved with horses. That’s where my love of everything to do with horses evolved.”
Participating in rodeos from an early age, Haugen competed in Little Britches Rodeos and then won high school titles. “We had a high school rodeo team with a very competitive bunch of cowboys and cowgirls,” he said. “That paid off for me to have such great teammates going to a rodeo nearly every weekend.”
Three years competing at the National High School Rodeo Finals, Haugen attended Wyoming’s Casper College on a rodeo scholarship two years. “Then I rode with the University of Wyoming in Laramie qualifying for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Finals,” he said
Life’s direction seemed set as Haugen soon got his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) card. “I competed for 20 years qualifying for my PRCA Gold Card,” he said. “I competed in every event, and liked them all, except bull riding, I didn’t really care that much for it.”
Proof of the cowboy’s all-around rodeo talent came when he won the Linderman Award in 1989. He had to win more than $1,000 in each of three events, including both rough stock and timed competition
“Calf roping, team roping, saddle bronc riding, I really didn’t care what event I was competing in,” Haugen said. “Whichever one I was winning the most money in happened to be my favorite at the time.”
He qualified for both the PRCA Badlands Circuit Finals and the Prairie Circuit Finals. Haugen was inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2021.
Personal arena experience and success found Haugen’s knowledge sought by younger rodeo athletes. He’s served as assistant college rodeo team coach, winning a national championship at Southwest Oklahoma State during the 1991-1992 season.
“Your horse is the most important ingredient to being a timed event winner,” Haugen insisted. “Still, personal horsemanship ability is essential for your mount to work at its best.”
Thus Haugen’s after-rodeo career became training horses and their riders. “I’ve been self-employed riding for the public four decades,” said the 57-year-old cowboy. “It’s been a great ride with all of the horses and horse enthusiasts I’ve worked with, hopefully helping them all.”
His unique training program remains focused on fundamentals learned from experiences in and out of rodeo competitions.
“I’ve made more mistakes than anybody with horses, but every one of them has helped me learn,” Haugen said. “You must have connection with the horse’s brain because it tells the horse’s body what to do. That holds true whatever is being asked of the horse.”
Headquartered on 40-acres in southwest Oklahoma, Haugen keeps a dozen horses in training. “I have assistants who help and do additional work,” he said. “I still rope some not a bunch really. I don’t tie down, just team roping and breakaway, but keep busy.”
The cowboy’s vast horse knowledge is shared presenting horsemanship clinics at the headquarters and around the country.
“I work with students here and will have 25 clinics in about that many states this year,” he said. “I’ll be bringing two of my own young started horses to EquiFest for the presentations.”
A new highlight for this year’s EquiFest is the breakaway roping clinic Haugen will be conducting on Thursday. “We’ll have all levels of ropers starting with the basics through practice runs,” he said.
Roping has three fundamental steps taught by Haugen. “They are position of the roper and the stock, the swing and the delivery,” he explained. “While I try to keep it simple, putting all of the steps together takes practice.”
Still the roper’s horse and the rider’s horsemanship ability are the final ingredients to be a winner. “It’s best for ropers especially beginners to have a really good horse that they know how to ride,” Haugen emphasized.
First part of the session will be roping dummies on the ground. “Then, students will practice roping the sled from horseback,” Haugen said. “During the afternoon, we’ll have live calves to rope. There should be every level from slow runners to those fast competition calves.”
Assisting her father with the breakaway clinic will be his daughter Hannah Macy of Stephenville, Texas. “Hannah has had a lot of success roping and is a very good teacher,” Haugen credited.
A double sanctioned breakaway roping competition with added prize money is scheduled Sunday afternoon, February 20th. Top Women’s Profession Rodeo Association (WPRA) and World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) ropers in the first go-round qualify for a one-of-a-kind grand finale.
“Confident, meaningful communication, and proper horsemanship allow any horse and rider the opportunity to achieve their optimal individual potential,” Haugen said.
Details can be found on Phil Haugen Horsemanship, Kansas Horse Council and EquiFest of Kansas websites as well as Facebook.

Phil Haugen, all-around cowboy, trainer and clinician, will present horsemanship clinics during the EquiFest of Kansas. Retired from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association competition, he has a training facility at Weatherford, Oklahoma. Haugen will present a breakaway roping clinic on Thursday, Feb. 17th, before official kickoff of EquiFest at Salina, February 18-19-20.

Hannah Macy, champion breakaway roper from Stephenville, Texas, will assist her father, Phil Haugen, presenting a breakaway roping clinic at Salina, February 17th, prior to the EquiFest of Kansas.