Archive for July, 2011

postheadericon Special events make an impact on Lovington’s fair

LOVINGTON, N.M. – In every community, there are children who would love the opportunity to be a cowboy or a cowgirl, even for a day.

Without events like the Special Rodeo, many children never would get the opportunity. Physical disabilities don’t allow for them to rope or ride. They still dream nonetheless.

That’s why the organizers at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo love putting on its annual Special Rodeo, set for 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at Jake McClure Arena. It’s just another fabulous event that’s part of the eight-day county celebration that runs Aug. 5-13.

“That is one of the most humbling experiences you’ll ever go through,” said Dean Jackson, chairman of the fair board. “We don’t realize how fortunate we are. The thrill you see on those kids’ faces just from roping a dummy or riding a horse … that is unadulterated happiness.

“Until you’ve done that for someone, you can’t explain it. It brings a chill over my body every time.”

The event takes place a little before the start of the third night of the rodeo, which is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13. The actual rodeo will feature most of the top hands in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The Special Rodeo will, too, because the best cowboys in the business enjoy bringing that kind of light into a youngster’s life.

“The funny thing is the parents have the same attitude these kids do … just happiness,” Jackson said. “To me, it’s amazing. We don’t have any problems finding volunteers for the Special Rodeo. It’s a life-altering event. You can’t imagine what it does to you.”

It might just be the most special event happening during the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, but there are plenty of outstanding things going on. Another hot topic for the youngest rodeo fans is mutton busting for children who weigh less than 50 pounds. The pre-performance competition featuring all entrants will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, at the arena. Entry fee is $7, and the child must be present at registration. The top 40 scorers advance, and 10 contestants will be featured before each of the rodeo performances beginning at 7 p.m.

“The mutton busting has always been a big hit for us,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “It’s a lot of fun watching those kids, and it really helps get the crowd excited for the rodeo.”

Fair festivities kick off at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, with the Local Team Roping, a No. 13 handicapped event for Lea County residents only. Entry fee is $150 per roper, and teams will compete in a four-round progressive. The top 12 teams then qualify for the short go-round, which will follow the regular roping.

The 4H Horse Show will take place Saturday, Aug. 6. See www.leacounty.net for more information. The open 4D barrel race is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 8, and the queen contest will help crown the fair and rodeo’s queen and princess.

The 31st annual Fiddler’s Contest is planned for the final two days of the fair. A jam session is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, while registration for the contest begins at noon Saturday, Aug. 13. The contest will begin at 1 p.m.

“These great events are things a lot of people love to watch, and a lot of others love to take part in them,” Jackson said. “It makes it a lot of fun for everyone.”

postheadericon That’s a Pretty Prairie, and they’re helpful there

Rodeo people are the greatest in the world. The rodeo committee at Pretty Prairie, Kan., tops my list right now. We limped into Pretty Prairie at 45 mph (which is really tough on me) at 3:30 a.m. for slack Wednesday morning.

After slack, several of the rodeo committee men helped me figure out what was wrong with the truck, tried to find parts and a place to fix it, etc. One of the air hoses blew a hole, and we had to order a new hose from Chicago. It was shipped to Pratt, Kan. (another friend/roper picked them up Thursday on his way to Cheyenne).

The guys at Pretty Prairie, with a little cowboy ingenuity, spliced the hose so we could drive the truck and make it on to Woodward. Thanks so much! God sends us angels everyday dressed in Wranglers, so don’t forget to thank Him and pray blessings on those who go out of their way to help others!

Marty came to Pretty Prairie, and Jeanne went onto Manhattan, Kan., and Hardtner, Kan., with her husband, Rick. Marty and I are headed back to Cheyenne, Wyo., so he can rope in the morning. I am making the short round at Nampa, Idaho, so I will head west Friday to run there Saturday. Marty ropes at Deadwood, S.D., on Tuesday, so I’ll go up there to watch him. We don’t run there until Thursday morning, then it’s a fast drive to Burwell, Neb., for the performance that night.

Amigo did so good our first run at Cheyenne! We split fourth/fifth with a 17.66; a 17.50 won the round. That puts us in the Saturday performance on July 30. We are running well, our timing is back and finally feel like we are where we should be! Rodeo – it’s a marathon. Sometimes you just have to ride through the bad times, have faith in God and what He is doing and keep on going.

postheadericon Carr livestock evens the playing field for all contestants

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The terrain that is part of the southeast New Mexico is rugged; so are the cowboys that make this their home.

This is ranching country, and the men who work this land know their business. That’s why some of the greatest timed-event cowboys in ProRodeo history come from this neck of the woods. It’s why the best in the business today will make their way to Lovington for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which will have four performances set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13.

Guy Allen

Guy Allen

Hometown cowboy Guy Allen won the steer roping at last year’s event. He’s done that hundreds of time over his storied career, which is highlighted by his 18 world championships, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association record for most gold buckles by one cowboy. Allen also owns 32 consecutive qualifications to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, also a PRCA record.

“Lovington is roping country,” said Pete Carr, owner of Dallas-based Carr Pro Rodeo. “There are a lot of great ones from around there, that’s for sure.”

There are a lot of great ones who will come to town to compete every year. There’s a big purse and championship dollars on the line, so that’s a drawing card. But so is Carr and his crew of experts.

“To me, Pete Carr is one of the new wave of stock contractors as much about one end of the arena as he does the other,” said Trevor Brazile, an eight-time all-around world champion who has added three tie-down roping, two steer roping and a heading titles. “There have been stock contractors that don’t really have a complete rodeo. In my opinion, Pete puts on a complete rodeo.”

Being complete is the foundation for Carr’s livestock firm. Since its inception, Carr Pro Rodeo has had some of the greatest animal athletes in the sport, from Real Deal, the 2005 bareback riding horse of the year, to River Boat Annie, the reserve world champion bareback horse in 2007, to Air Up There, the top bucking bull in the Texas Circuit in 2008.

“The rough-stock events are just a small part of a rodeo,” Carr said, referring to bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. “Don’t get me wrong; they’re an important part of the rodeo, but I believe the best rodeos feature the best contestants and the best animals, and that goes for the timed events. I care about the calves and the steers and what they mean for our rodeo, just like I do the horses and bulls.”

If it’s ever been roped, Brazile knows about it. He’s one of just two to have qualified for the national finals in all four roping disciplines – he’s been to the steer roping finals each of the last 14 years and has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 20 times in team roping, tie-down roping and team roping (both heading and heeling).

Last year, he set the rodeo world on fire, earning coveted Triple Crown for the second time in his career by winning the all-around, tie-down roping and heading world titles in a single season – he’d won the Triple Crown in 2007 by winning the all-around, calf roping and steer roping gold buckles. Brazile also set earnings records, pocketing $507,921 in 2011, $211,509 of which came from the NFR.

“Pete has the best livestock there is to offer at both ends of the arena,” he said, referring to timed events and rough-stock events. “That’s something most stock contractors don’t have to offer … mostly that they don’t care enough to go the extra mile to do what Pete does. It costs him a little more for him to put on a rodeo because he wants it to be right.”

Carr counts on plenty of people to make it right, like timed-event chute boss John Gwatney, a timed-event contestant.

“We want to have good, even pens of livestock to give the cowboys the best chance at winning,” Gwatney said. “That’s something the contestants see when they come to one of our rodeos, and I know, from my experience, how much they appreciate that.”

postheadericon Tour helps add to the prestige of an already good rodeo

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Community is the foundation for the eight-day Lea County Fair and Rodeo.

It’s why ticket prices are just $5. It’s why the Lea County Commission underwrites the event, which begins Friday, Aug. 5, and has been a southeastern New Mexico showcase for 76 years. It’s why the rodeo is part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Wrangler Million Dollar Tour.

“I think it helps with our entries and with the quality of the contestants,” said Greg Massey, a fair board member who serves as chairman of the rodeo committee. “You get the top 20 percent of the contestants in each event; for our spectators, I think that’s important. You get to see the best of the best.”

It’s also one of three tour rodeos that take place the week beginning Monday, Aug. 8, joining Hermiston, Ore., and Sikeston, Mo. There are 24 tour rodeos across the country, and all are recognized for the large purses available to contestants. That’s a major drawing card for the top cowboys and cowgirls in ProRodeo.

Justin McDaniel

Justin McDaniel

“The tour saved my backside last year,” said 2008 world champion bareback rider Justin McDaniel, who won $80,000 in just four months last season while recuperating from back surgery. “Those tour rodeos offer a lot of money, and I won enough at those to sneak into the playoffs. Then I did pretty well there, too.”

He got a major boost in Lovington. The four performances of this year’s rodeo will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13. Most of the biggest names in the sport will be on hand fighting for every dollar they can get. Not only does money won in Lovington count toward the world standings and qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, also it counts toward the tour standings.

The top 24 contestants in each event qualify for the Justin Boots Playoffs from Sept. 9-11 in Puyallup, Wash. From there, the top 12 on the money list earn a spot in the Justin Boots Championships from Sept. 22-24 in Omaha, Neb. Both events feature high-dollar opportunities for the contestants in the field – that not only helps pay bills, but it’s also how gold buckles are won; the contestant in each event with the most money earned at the end of the season is crowned world champion.

“Being on tour helps fill our rodeo with national champions,” Massey said. “It brings the best of the best. The contestants want to follow the tour rodeos, because the money they earn in a tour rodeo leads them to the first playoff stop in Puyallup. That’s big for them.”

It’s also big for the fair, rodeo and Lea County communities.

“A few years ago, the attendance was down, entries were down,” he said, noting that Pete Carr’s Carr Pro Rodeo became the primary stock contractor a few years ago. “Since we changed the format with our rodeo and got Pete in with us, we’ve maxed out on all of our entries and our attendance is up.”

That, too, makes it fun for the cowboys and cowgirls who make their livings on the rodeo trail.

“Lovington has been a good rodeo, and I really like that it’s part of the tour now,” said McDaniel, who last year placed third at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, earning $2,520 in the process. “That moved me into the top 24 on tour.”

McDaniel didn’t begin his 2010 season until early June, so he was still making up ground by early August. By the time the season concluded at the end of September, the 24-year-old cowboy had moved into the top 15 in the world standings and earned a fourth straight trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Once there, he placed in eight of 10 go-rounds, winning the average with the best cumulative score and earning $103,189 to move to No. 2 in the final standings.

And the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour got the Porum, Okla., cowboy to that point.

“You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you can get,” McDaniel said. “In Lovington, I got on the best bucking horse in the world, Real Deal. That’s the opportunity I needed at that time, and it helped me on down the road.”

Every cowboy has his gold buckle dreams, and they must follow McDaniel’s lead in realizing them. Being in southeastern New Mexico in August is critical for most, and that falls back on the organizers and volunteers who work all year to bring the best show to Lovington.

“There are a lot of ranch people around there, so they know a lot about the rodeo,” said Paul Peterson, one of the pickup men in Lovington who has worked the Wrangler NFR three times. “It’s always been a pretty good rodeo, but the committee has stepped up and added a lot of money. That’s been a good drawing factor.”

postheadericon Closer to home

I just got into the good ol’ USA. It was a good trip to Canada. I have a rodeo Thursday and Friday, then I’m heading home. Highs were unusual, 70s and lots of short-lived storms. There were even some tornadoes.

postheadericon It was quite an experience to say the least

It was 11:15 p.m., dark and raining as I made my way to TeePee Creek, Alberta. I was on the sixth hour of my drive and less than 20 miles from my destination.

I was on the phone with the head committeeman for the rodeo there when I came across four teens in a car that was going all over the place. In fact, I had to slow down as they erratically darted in front of me. Less than a minute later, they went into the ditch at probably 65 mph, seemingly maintaining their speed.

As they came back onto the highway just a few car lengths in front of me, they were nearly sideways. They rolled one and a half times, and on the second roll, the vehicle spun on its top. It came to rest upside down in the opposite lane of the highway. I told the committeeman what I’d just witness and had him send an ambulance immediately.

Thank the Lord no immediate traffic was on the road. The vehicles contents were scattered everywhere, including the female passenger. The driver was more interested in trying to convince me he wasn’t driving and that I needed to be on his side and tell that to law enforcement.

Ignoring him, I conducted a brief search before finding the female passenger in the ditch. She was pretty messed up, suffering extensive neck, collar bone, rib, abdominal pain and having a scalp all torn up. I grabbed a sleeping bag that was laying in the debris and one of my rain coats to keep her warm and from getting any wetter.

She lay in the ditch with a passerby that was a fireman, as well as a Canadian Mountie, stabilizing her head. I heard she had surgery the next day, but I don’t know the extent of her injuries.

And, yes, the kid that was driving was arrested for his role in the wreck. I heard he and his friends spent the night in jail.

Please, people, don’t drink and drive. I don’t care to experience that again.

postheadericon Lerwill excited for his return to Buck Wild Days Rodeo

SILVERTON, Texas – Some people are always searching for that one thing that will make their lives complete.

That’s not Troy Lerwill, a Utah man who lives his life on the rodeo trail entertaining hundreds of thousands of fans a year. Lerwill gets to laugh and carouse and, what might be most impressive, is that he leaves them amazed at the end of the evening.

"The Wild Child," Troy Lerwill, returns to the Silverton Buck Wild Days Rodeo this year with three performances set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18-Saturday, Aug. 20. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY DAN HUBBELL)

"The Wild Child," Troy Lerwill, returns to the Silverton Buck Wild Days Rodeo this year with three performances set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18-Saturday, Aug. 20. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY DAN HUBBELL)

“It’s just one of those things that I found that I really enjoy doing,” said Lerwill, who married his passion for rodeo with his interest in motocross and created his alter ego, “The Wild Child,” a daredevil who does wonders on the back of a motorcycle.

Lerwill is one of the most sought-after specialty acts in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and he’ll be in the Texas Panhandle for the three performances of the Silverton’s Buck Wild Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18-Saturday, Aug. 20. It’s the second straight year Lerwill will bring his award-winning show to the Texas community.

“Silverton was a fun rodeo,” said Lerwill, a six-time PRCA Comedy Act of the Year, a two-time Coors Man in the Can and a three-time barrelman at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. I didn’t know what to expect since it was the first ProRodeo when we got there, but it was a really nice community, and there were really nice people there. It was a lot of fun. I hope it turns into a real big thing for their community.”

The rodeo has been around for 119 years, but 2011 is just the second year it’s been part of the PRCA, the premier sanctioning body in the sport. That’s just one of the pieces of the puzzle involved in making the Buck Wild Days Rodeo the biggest event in this part of the state.

“We’re pretty excited to have the best specialty act in the business coming to our rodeo,” said Ken Wood, chairman of Buck Wild Days Rodeo committee. “If people haven’t seen what Troy does in the arena, they’re going to be amazed.”

Lerwill has been around ProRodeo for 13 years and has proven himself time and time again. It’s a way he can share his talent for entertaining with his passion for motorcycles.

“My family was into rodeo, and I always enjoyed the bullfighting and clowns,” he said. “That’s how I was introduced to the business. I just found a niche in rodeo where it works really well. I enjoy the people, and it’s nice that it’s a family oriented sport.”

While he has fun at his job, it’s his professionalism that is a drawing card for producers.

“We want to bring the very best talent we can every night to every rodeo we produce,” said Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo, the primary stock contractor in Silverton. “One of the keys to putting on great events is having a team of extremely talented individuals.”

Whether it’s his sense of humor or his daredevil nature on a motorcycle, Lerwill is definitely talented. Fans that get to see it not only are entertained, but also they are part of the package Lerwill presents.

“I really enjoy when I do my act and people get to take a break from the everyday bump and grind in life and smile a little bit,” he said. “When I put a smile on people’s faces, it makes me smile. That’s the funnest thing about it.”

postheadericon Celebrated artists bringing their acts to Lea County

The Eli Young Band will be one of four big acts to perform at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo in Lovington, N.M., from Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13.

The Eli Young Band will be one of four big acts to perform at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo in Lovington, N.M., from Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13.

LOVINGTON, N.M. – When the Eli Young Band announced itself to the music world, it did so with great gusto.

Its debut album, Jet Black & Jealous, entered the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart at No. 5; it was No. 2 on iTunes. It featured the band’s first Top 10 song on country radio, “Always The Love Songs.”

That gusto will be on display when the Denton, Texas-based band performs at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, an eight-day celebration in this southeastern New Mexico community that will feature four top music acts, a generous helping of other entertaining shows and one of the biggest and best events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association from Aug. 5-13.

The Eli Young Band will showcase its brand of country music at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, just after the conclusion of the final performance of the PRCA rodeo. It’s an outstanding way to close the annual community celebration.

“We’ve got a really good lineup this year,” said Dean Jackson, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “It opens with Jars of Clay, which will be playing on Faith and Family Night on Wednesday (Aug. 10).

“We’ve also got Chris Cagle on Thursday, Smash Mouth on Friday and Eli Young Band on Saturday. I think it’s an outstanding lineup, and we’re all very excited about it.”

So are the fans.

The Eli Young Band has been well received nationwide, enjoying a piece of the pie on Gary Allan’s Get Off On The Pain tour and the Country Throwdown tour, which included Eric Church, Jack Ingram, Jamey Johnson, Little Big Town and Montgomery Gentry. The band was formed by James Young and Mike Eli, Eli & Young, when they attended the University of North Texas. Chris Thompson and Jon Jones joined the band later.

The concert series kicks off on Wednesday night with Jars of Clay, a Christian rock band from Nashville. The core part of the group – Dan Haseltine, lead vocals; Charlie Lowell, piano/keyboard; Steven Mason, guitar; and Matt Odmark, guitar – met while attending Greenville (Ill.) College in the early 1990s. Since then, the group has produced 10 albums.

“We’ve had a lot of response about them,” Jackson said. “People are telling us great things about them.”

People are saying great things about Cagle, too. In fact, the song “My Love Goes On and On” quickly became a hit. The song, off his debut album, Play It Loud, reached No. 15 on the country charts. Cagle’s “I Breath In, I Breath Out” reached No. 1 in 2001. It is one of seven hits for the Louisiana-born artist; four of those songs reached the Top 10, including “What A Beautiful Day,” “Chicks Dig It,” and “What Kinda Gone.”

“I think Chris Cagle is an outstanding act to lead us into the weekend,” Jackson said of the Thursday, Aug. 11, show.

Smash Mouth will bring its popular sound to the fair’s main stage on Friday, Aug. 12, and that seems to be a popular call among the group’s contingent of fans and those who have enjoyed the band’s No. 1 songs, “Walkin’ on the Sun” and “All Star,” as well as a plethora of other catchy hits like the cover of The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” which was on the soundtrack for the movie “Shrek.”

Steve Harwell’s raspy vocals lead the sound that was established in 1994 – the 1999 release of Astro Lounge reached No. 6 on the American charts. Bassist Paul De Lisle is the other founding member, and he makes up the strong contingent that is rounded out by drummer Randy Cook and guitarist Mike Krompass, who have joined the group in the last two years.

Smash Mouth is coming off a fantastic tour, where this past February the band performed for U.S. Troops serving in the Middle East. The band performed at military bases throughout Iraq and Kuwait, and Harwell called the adventure, “One of the best things we’ve ever done.”

“This is the first year we’ve gone that way as far as that kind of music,” Jackson said. “We’ve had some input from people who have asked for this kind of music.

We think this year’s lineup of concerts includes acts everyone wants to see.”

postheadericon Temperatures in the 70s in the heat of the day

Since the last week of June, I’ve been to Clear Lake, S.D., back home, to Park Rapids, Minn., for July 1-3, then drove 900 miles overnight to Choteau, Mont., for a one-performance rodeo on the Fourth.

I knew I was going to be rolling in just after the performance started, so I put on my makeup while driving. I made it just in time to unload the fire truck, get it ready and rolled into the arena. After the firetruck act, I did some walking-and-talking humor to finish the rodeo performance. Then I loaded up, collected my check and laid out in the pick up to nap for a bit.  I stayed a couple of days at a friends place in nearby Great Falls, Mont.

After that, I rolled across the border into Canada. I was north of Calgary about two and a half hours in a little village of Benalto, which may be as large as Mt. Vernon, S.D. Benalto is rural, and people stayed in campers and tents to make it a week end out of it. It seemed to be primarily an older generation camping.

The committee people are down to earth, friendly and helpful. The announcer wasn’t real seasoned but did fair. I’ll take that over an arrogant one any day.

The weather is in the high 70s during the heat of the day. The committee put me up in a rented RV. There were no linens or towels, etc. I found a light blanket in the clown trailer and put it to use. It wasn’t plugged in last night, and I woke up shivering. I found the gas was hooked up and on, so I lit the stove for heat for a while. That’s roughing it, I guess.

It has been a while since I’ve been awaken by the loud speakers announcing something. In Benalto, it was a kid rodeo. Oh, well; it is what it is. I believe life is what we make it, and I’ll make it a good time.

postheadericon Roach roping her way to a world title

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appeared in the July 2011 edition of Women’s Pro Rodeo News. It was the cover story, and it was great getting to know a little more about a young Texas roper.

Jaymee Roach likes to have fun. She likes to smile and laugh, and, her friends say, she likes for others to do so, too.

“Jaymee would really surprise people when you finally get to the core of her true character,” said Jackie Hobbs, Roach’s friend and roommate who is also one of the best all-around hands in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. “She’s a goofball and is probably the funniest girl I know.

“But when you’re truly around Jaymee and get to the core of who she is, you find out she has more heart and try than most people.”

That’s what life’s about for the cowgirl who grew up in Banquete, Texas, not too far from Corpus Christi and Kingsville near the state’s southern tip. On May 23, Roach teamed with Debbie Fabrizio of Pueblo, Colo., to finish second at the Windy Ryon No. 11 Ladies Roping at Saginaw, Texas.

In the process, she earned $4,825 and immediately moved to No. 3 in the team roping-heading world standings behind leader Hobbs ($12,930) and Jacque Woolman ($5,900).

A lifelong roper

Jaymee Roach wasn’t born with a rope in her hand, but it didn’t take long for her to get the grasp.

“I’ve been roping since I was 5 years old,” said Roach, who lives in Stephenville, Texas, where she works full time as a sales representative for Ivy Jane clothing line out of Dallas. “I’ve just rodeoed my whole life. I’ve done all the youth organizations, then I did college rodeo in Snyder (Western Texas College) for two years, then went to Tarleton (State University) in Stephenville. My freshman year I made the college finals in breakaway.”

The success has continued. Last year, she was the WPRA’s rookie of the year in tie-down roping, heading and heeling.

“I’ve always amateur rodeoed, and after college, I started team roping more because there aren’t that many amateur rodeos that offer a lot of roping events for girls,” Roach said. “You can do some breakaway, but you can go to team ropings all the time. I bought my WPRA card last year, and just started heading, heeling, tie-down and breakaway.”

She’s pretty good at it, too. In Saginaw, Roach and Fabrizio roped four steers in 46.43 seconds for second place in the average. They posted the fastest time of the short go-round, a 7.61-second run. It all added up to a quick march toward the top of the heading world standings.

There’s a glimmer of hope for that all-elusive world championship, but Roach has carried that in her dreams for almost all her life.

“One goal of mine is to win a world title in the heading, healing or breakaway,” she said. “Another goal of mine is to win the Wildfire All-Girl roping or win the Windy Ryon. I’ve come close, but I haven’t got it yet.”

It’s not for a lack of effort, and in this business, it’s all about hard work, talented ropers and athletic animals.

“Jaymee is an awesome friend,” Hobbs said, noting that the two of them lived roping on the Guy ranch near Abilene, Texas, before moving to Stephenville. “This past year when she came and worked on the ranch, she worked really hard on it, and she focused on her roping and working with the horses.

“There aren’t very many of us that are lucky enough to do this for a living. Now that she has a job, her roping is almost better, because she has taken what she’s learned and put it to use when she ropes.”

It helps, too, that Roach doesn’t have the pressure she once had. Before she began working with Ivy Jane, roping was her only livelihood.

“The pressure is now off her,” Hobbs said. “For a while, she was doing this as her job, working at it, trying every day, getting better. When you do that, you go through frustrations and changes with your roping. It’s hard. Then you have to make sure you win to pay bills and cover expenses.

“Now she’s gone through all that and she has a full-time job to take care of all that financial stuff. Now it’s fun. She’s actually pretty scary because she can just come out and win. It’s just her talent coming through now. She’s roping awesome.”

Getting started

The world of rodeo is nothing new to the Roach family. It might just be a south Texas thing, too.

“My mom rodeoed and roped when she was younger,” Roach said. “It think she started when she was about 10. My aunt roped, and they ran barrels and all that stuff.

“I have an older brother, and he roped and rodeoed all through high school and college as well.”

Life, it seems, was spent horseback. Roach can’t remember not being on a horse, growing up riding and roping, just like everyone else in her family. Now in her mid-20s, Roach keeps her eyes on the prize and pays attention to the finest details of the task, from working horses to handling the rope, turning steers or firing at heels. Her mind’s eye sees magnificent things, and she’s worked hard to live up to those images.

“I love to watch Trevor Brazile,” she said of the 14-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion who has won gold buckles in steer roping (two), heading (one), tie-down roping (three) and all-around (a record eight). “He is just great at whatever he does. He’s a great horseman, and he handles a rope so well. He’s probably my biggest roping role model that I look up to. And he’s such a nice guy, just the way he lives his life and treats people.

“He’s a really good person as well as a rodeo cowboy.”

Idolizing possibly the greatest roper in the history of rodeo is one thing, but she’s had plenty of help along the way. She’s hung around with Lari Dee Guy and Hobbs, two of the best ropers in the WPRA, but there was plenty of influence on Roach’s career before that.

“My mom is the one who hauled me to all the rodeos,” Roach said. “My dad was there, too, and he helped me turn out calves and such, but my mom knows how to rope, and she has always helped me.”

Joanna and Rusty Roach just did what parents do, and older brother Joe Roach led the pack in the hierarchy of rodeoing siblings. It happens in many families who are involved in the sport that takes passion and hard work.

“My parents were awesome,” Jaymee Roach said. “Almost every weekend my parents were hauling me to two or three youth rodeos a weekend. We live in south Texas, so it was a long ways to go.”

It seems Roach has come a long ways, too, but she has a long ways to go to reach truly visualize her world championship dreams.

“I do this because I love it,” she said of roping. “I love it. It’s my favorite thing to do. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t ride horses or rope.”

For the time being, she rides part time while establishing herself in the world of sales. Hobbs helps take care of the horses while Roach is gone, and she gets to see up close just how thing are working out for her younger friend.

“It’s just her talent coming through now that all that pressure is off,” Hobbs said. “She’s roping awesome.”

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