Hope Thompson and Whitney DeSalvo are a time-tested team to be reckoned with. They’re the best of friends, and that chemistry has spilled straight into their super-successful partnership. Thompson and DeSalvo roped four steers in 30.78 seconds to take the $20,000 title at the BFI Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl Team Roping, and daylighted the 174-team field by 7.86 seconds. Thompson and DeSalvo have now won this roping two of the last three years, and were the reserve champs that third year.
Hope and Whitney took a half-second lead over the pack into the short round, and slammed the door with a snappy 7.22-second run.
“Winning is why we enter,” smiled Thompson, who’s a two-time Women’s Professional Rodeo Association world champion header, and also owns a WPRA breakaway roping title and a World Champions Rodeo Alliance heeling championship. “A repeat win with Whitney is pretty special, because she’s one of my best friends. I love her. She’s awesome.”
Four-time WPRA World Champion Heeler DeSalvo is the first-ever and only female 8 heeler in roping history.
“I struggled so bad early in the day today,” Whitney said humbly. “I had great partners, but of the first three steers I ran, I missed two and slipped a leg on the other one. I caught both of those steers I missed, then lost both feet. I placed in the first round with Lari Dee (Guy), then turned around and missed our second one.
On top of their $20,000 champs’ check, Thompson and DeSalvo were presented Cactus Saddles, Charlie 1 Horse Hats, Gist Buckles, YETI Carryalls, Justin Boots, Cactus Saddlery Pads, Heel-O-Matic Bones and Hox, and Cactus Ropes.
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“I told Hope before we roped our first steer, ‘I’m catching ’em, I just don’t know if I can keep ’em in it. If it goes on, you might want to hold your breath a little.’”
The daughter-mom team of Rylea and Debbie Fabrizio roped four steers in 38.64 for second and $7,500 in the BFI Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl. Kersti Passig and Lenay Willie were 27.42 on three to take the 9.5 Incentive. Passig and Willie were presented $3,750, Cactus Saddles, Charlie 1 Horse Hats, Gist Buckles, YETI Carryalls, Cactus Saddlery Pads, Heel-O-Matic Bones and Hox, and Cactus Ropes. In case you’re curious, a World Series barrier was used for the All-Girl.
Thompson and DeSalvo first won the BFI Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl Team Roping together in 2020, when the BFI moved to the Lazy E. They were second last year, then struck again in 2022.
“We’ve pretty much been roping together since I started team roping,” said Hope, who calls Abilene, Texas home. “It started first as a friendship. We’ve been really good friends for a really long time. We’ve had so much fun, and have won a lot of ropings together.
“Whitney is absolutely the most dominant woman heeler in the world today. And if you don’t even segregate it, she fits right in at any open roping. She’s a freak at what she does. Heeling’s her #1 passion, but if she worked as hard at the heading or breakaway, she’d be just as dominant in those, too. I just shake my head at how effortless she makes it look. Whitney’s a badass.”
Hope T can’t quite decide which event she likes best.
“I’m not sure I could pick,” said the talented roper, clinician and horse trainer, who’s a 5+ header and a 4+ heeler. “I’m really passionate about training the breakaway horses. But anytime you put a rope in my hand, I love it all.”
Hope rode her sorrel giant Andre, who she bought and trained as a 4-year-old and is 11 now. Whitney rode her 11-year-old sorrel mare, Becky.
“We drew good steers,” Hope said. “But when I back in there with Whitney, I’m in no hurry. She gives me so much confidence. Knowing that we’ll be fine if I just score, rope and turn the steer makes it fun and easy.
Hope Thompson and Whitney DeSalvo roped four steers in 30.78 seconds to daylight the field by almost eight seconds and take the $20,000 win at the 2022 BFI Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl Team Roping.
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“And what can you not say about the Lazy E? I love it here. It’s awesome. We roped good steers. The ground was awesome. I’m grateful for the opportunity to get to rope on this platform as part of BFI Week.”
DeSalvo lives in Monticello, Arkansas, where she rides and ropes for Broken H Farms.
“The Lazy E’s been good to me,” Hope said. “I won first, second and third in this roping the first year the BFI moved here, in 2020.”
DeSalvo won the All-Girl Roping at the 2021 BFI in Reno with Jenna Johnson, and second with Hope T at the 2021 BFI Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl in Guthrie before working her way back to the winner’s circle with her great friend in 2022.
“Hope and I have a great friendship first,” Whitney said. “We’re really good friends, she rides a really good horse and we win. I’ve won more with Hope than anyone else, and there’s no pressure roping with her. We have fun, but we still take care of business. It just works.”
DeSalvo’s next roping goals?
“Logan Graham (who also was her BFI header this year) and I are going to try to make the Great Lakes Circuit Finals,” she said. “It’s also a goal to try and do better at the open ropings.
“I absolutely look forward to this roping. It being during BFI Week makes it even more prestigious. It just gives it a little bit cooler feeling, especially because the last couple years I’ve also entered The Feist.”
Who are these headliner women’s favorite ropers in the whole, wide world to watch?
“I always find myself watching Kaleb Driggers—the different horses he rides, and how his loops hit,” Hope said. “Lari Dee and I have gotten to talk to him about competing. Getting to ask him questions and getting his answers, then watching him put it into example is pretty cool.”
“Paul (Eaves) is probably my favorite to watch,” added Whitney. “I worked for him for a while, so I’ve gotten to watch his style a lot. I have a lot of respect for him as a person, and his work ethic. Paul has about as flawless a swing and position as anyone.”
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Kendra Santos has written about cowboys all her life, including longtime stints with the PRCA, PBR, BFI, WCRA, Lazy E Arena, and The Team Roping Journal.