When Chattooga County native Ryan Jarrett was learning how to rope calves as a youngster, he got into the habit of riding several horses in a day.
It continues to pay off for him, and he will return to the National Finals Rodeo for the 13th time in a magnificent career. He finished the 2021 regular season with $91,933 and will enter the Dec. 2-11 competition in Las Vegas 12th in the world standings.
“I think it’s really important to be able to get on a different horse when you need to,” said Jarrett, the 2005 all-around world champion from Comanche, where he lives with his wife, Shy-Anne, and their daughter, Jurnee. “When I learned the rope, the gentleman that showed me what to do would trade and train horses. I’d ride six or eight different ones four days a week, and they might not be the same horses ever day.
“I hated them a lot, but they taught me a lot, too.”
Yes, they did, and he proves it every year. This year, he got on several horses and still found success. He won just one tie-down roping title, that in Delta, Utah, in mid-June, so most of his earnings came from finishing among the leaders more often than not. He rode a horse owned by young roper Kincade Henry a few times and rode Lane Livingston’s horse several times, even finishing his campaign on the talented mount.
“Lane was hauling him, and when it came time to go to the Northwest, Lane was just entered the week of Caldwell (Idaho) and Moses Lake (Washington), and he was heading back to Seymour (Texas) after that,” Jarrett said. “I made a deal with him to continue to haul the horse the rest of the Northwest to finish the season on him.
“That horse excels outside, and he’s real easy to get along with. He’s a run-them-down type horse. I also roped on him at the Roping Fiesta in San Angelo (the end of October).”
Not every cowboy has the ability to jump-ride a horse and find success, but Jarrett isn’t a typical cowboy. Raised on a dairy farm in northwest Georgia, he found his success in the rodeo arena. He turned pro 18 years ago and uses that experience to make sure he makes the right moves when possible.
“It’s always been beneficial to me,” he said. “If I have seen the horse prior and have an idea of how it performs, I can look at the situation and know that’s what I need to ride. It’ll work most of the time.”
That’s true. He’s only failed to qualify for the NFR a handful of times, which proves his prowess in the game. He won the Montana Silversmiths all-around gold buckle in his initial trip to Las Vegas in 2005, when he qualified in both tie-down roping and steer wrestling. He was the only man not named Trevor Brazile to win the most coveted title in ProRodeo from 2002-2015.
Now that he’s 37, Jarrett remains as salty as ever when it comes to roping calves. Of his 14 NFR qualifications, 13 have come in tie-down roping. He finished the 2020 season 10th in the world standing.
ProRodeo’s grand finale has returned to Las Vegas, the NFR’s primary home since 1985. He’ll return to a routine he knows well and will do everything he can to take care of himself, his family and the horses he will have in the Nevada desert.
“I’m going to get on a horse owned by Cody McCartney and Bailey Moore,” Jarrett said of the bay mare named Poppy. “The first time I rode her was at our circuit finals. I always liked that horse. She came from Cimarron Boardman. She’s been rodeoed on and knows the drill.
“I also have a horse I throughout the year that I’ve dan sure had success on that I’ll take.”
That’s Donk a 13-year-old bay gelding he acquired just before April this year. While Poppy will get the first shot at competing inside the Thomas & Mack Center, Donk will be ready to go if there’s a call to the pull pen.
“My year was pretty steady,” said Jarrett, who credits some of his success to his sponsors, Wrangler, Cactus Ropes, WW Livestock, PHT Products and Outlaw Equine. “I had several seconds, thirds, fourths along the way. I probably made the most money that counted toward the standings in Calgary (Alberta).”
Yes, he did. In the Calgary Stampede’s return to the PRCA, Jarrett pocketed $19,500, a good portion of which counted toward the world standings. A former Calgary champion, this marked the first time his earnings inside Stampede Park counted for his bid to making the NFR.
He also won big checks in Guymon, Oklahoma; Odgen, Utah; and the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in its final year in Kissimmee, Florida.
“I got to feel a little more confident as the season went on,” he said. “It was different rodeoing this year compared to last year. You got an idea of where you were going, and you didn’t have to make new plans like we did last year.
“I’m super excited to return to Vegas. I don’t want to take anything away from Arlington, because they were good to us last year, but it’s just not the same atmosphere as rodeoing in Vegas.”