Training & Judging with a Calf Roping great
Cover photo by Gustafson Photo NFR Oklahoma City, OK 1982
In the horse world there are many different people that can have a hand in or on a horse. There is the owner, the trainer, the rider. There are also many different people and factors who can have their hand in deciding on what a horse might hold a title for. Jerry Jetton is a thirteen time National Finals Rodeo qualifying calf roper who trained two AQHA horses of the year during his career. This makes him a horse owner, trainer, rider and now as a Royal Crown Roping Futurity judge a part of that deciding factor of what titles and earnings a horse may hold.
1991 Rodeo America Pro Rodeo Cards Set B Jerry Jetton #57
Jerry owned and trained Broadway Tar Baby also known as “Boogie Man” and Cowboy Marine, also known as “Orejas.” Boogie Man would take home the title in 1991 and 93. Jerry credits his daughter as the actual owner of Orejas which means big ears in Spanish, she would lead him into the arena in 1995 to be recognized as the PRCA’s AQHA Calf Roping horse of the year. Orejas would go on to be Cody Ohl’s partner and earn a world title and an ever coveted gold buckle.
Picture by Fred Nyulassy Okadale, CA 1993
Jerry left the trail quite a few years ago now after leaving quite a legendary mark. You can find him a few places now, one place is in the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in the Fort Worth Stockyards, another is in Weatherford, TX where he and his wife now call home, you may also find him at a Royal Crown Futurity on Tiedown Roping day. Jerry has been judging for some time now and he says he was a little nervous at first. “Coming from the rodeo world I am not a huge fan of the way horse shows are judged and there are other guys on that same page as me, we know they can be docked for any little movement, sometimes things that won’t matter on a rodeo run. A horse show does not want to see what a rodeo cowboy sees in a horse he wants to ride.”
With the horse industry booming many of these futurity horses will age out and head to the rodeos so it makes sense that they should be showcased in a way they may preform when they are 5 years older. Jetton explained he did not want to step into the futurity world and have to judge as they do in the horse show space. He credits the Royal Crown for doing a great job gathering the judges before each event and deciding what the average score will look like and what they’re all looking for. “I like an average score of 25″ says Jetton. As a judge he is looking at the run from the minute that horse is getting in the box until the moment the roper gets back on the horse. “I want to see the horse for what he really is and my knowledge as a calf roper for so long really helps, I know if they can’t get the calfs head right it will take a minute in the box and I do not have to dock for that movement.”
Speaking of calves, the factor of the claves has to be understood and appreciated in this event. Jetton as a judge they can factor this in and have been able to give reruns.“When you talk about a 4 or 5 year old he’s not equip for a runner so I might throw a flag for a rerun and maybe they didn’t have the opportunity the last horse did. Being a calf roper and roped for so long I can have the knowledge to know the calf was not great and I discuss that with my judges and the royal crown has allowed us to reason that and do it.”
R Casanova aka “Chubby” owned by Jerry & Kelly Jetton at the 2018 World Show placing in the top 5 in the Junior Tiedown Roping….also pictured rider & trainer Brent Lewis. (and me Sierra Lewis)
What gets a good score with Jerry and what makes him excited for the future of his sport? “Myself and anyone that has trained calf horses know the scoring running and stopping is the most important part. They need to get back and work the rope.” Jetton says “I think the quality and breeding today is better.” It is no secret the price in rope horses has rocketed in the last decade, which one may be able to attribute to everything Jetton discussed. “They have access to great horses today and I see that as a trainer, retired calf roper, and judge.”
What was the best advice Jetton was ever given about training and keeping a calf horse working? It came from his old friend Barry Burk out on the rodeo trail one day. “I was probably 37-38 years old and I was thinking you know I am getting close to the end of my career. We were sitting there and I told Barry you know my horse just isn’t working like I need him to work, and he put his hand up kinda like stop talking Jerry and listen to what I have to say. So I looked at him and said okay Barry go ahead, Barry looked at me and said the older you get the better horse you gotta have, just think about it you’re older but you’re still roping really good but you’re not 25 either, you’re not running 50 a day anymore. Barry said you find the very best horse you can buy and or train and the better horse you make and you have the longer you can rodeo.” Not too long after Burk said this on an open highway somewhere between rodeos, Jetton would find and train Orejas.
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