Jess Cardon doesn’t see herself as a pioneer. She’s an official PRCA card carrying pickup man. Talking to ProRodeo veterans Cardon isn’t believed to be the first woman pickup man in PRCA history – but she’s the only one going now.
Cardon, 30, acknowledged being a PRCA pickup man was something she never envisioned.
“It is kind of one of those things that eventually just showed itself,” Cardon said. “I always admired it and loved it, but it isn’t something I thought I would do. Most of it came about when Josh (Reed) and I got together.”
Cardon has been a pickup man for different rodeo associations and events for around seven years, but she didn’t make her PRCA debut until 2021 at the Brawley (Calif.) Cattle Call Rodeo, Nov. 14-15.
“Last year, Josh, my fiancé, who is a pickup man, got hurt in Bakersfield (Calif.), and they scrambled to get another person to go to Brawley and we had been kicking around the idea to go ahead and get my card and my first rodeo was Brawley,” Jess said. “That was a big one to crack out at. A lot of times Josh and I pick up together. I have gone to a couple of rodeos now by myself. We just make sure I’m with the right other person. I also pickup a lot with Bronc Boehnlein and Danny Leslie, guys we dang sure know.”
Cardon and her fiancé live in Caliente, Calif. They have their own business running commercial-based beef cattle.
“When Josh and I started dating, he was into being a pickup man, and I got around the right people to pickup,” Jess said. “I also definitely got on some really awesome horses. I grew up on cutting horses and I grew up on a cow-calf ranch in Caliente. I got into rodeo and team roped, just a little bit of everything.”
Cardon acknowledged being a pickup woman in the PRCA was a bold move.
“There absolutely was some fear there,” Cardon said. “I was so worried about the bareback riding because if somebody got hung up, I know I’m only so big and don’t have that brute strength. That’s why I go with guys who know me, and I know them. I’ve also figured out my spot when somebody gets hung up. My spot is to get a hold of the horse. My initial reaction is to get a hold of the horse and stop the action.
“I would also like to thank Jeff Shearer who I pick up with. Also, with the help of Paul Applegarth at Wild West and Flying U Rodeo and the whole Rosser family I was able to get my start in this.”
Cardon primarily works rodeos in the California Circuit. She has already been a pickup man at California rodeos in Brawley, Woodlake, Auburn, and Santa Maria and Glennville.
“There was a lot of good reaction and some bad reaction,” Cardon said after her first rodeo in Brawley. “I just make sure I do my job and I do everything I can do correctly. As long I read the situation and put myself where I should be everything should work out just fine. I have several other rodeos planned for this summer and fall. I see myself doing this for a long time. I just feel like I’m a person doing my job. For me, it is not about being a pioneer or breaking a glass ceiling. To me, if you do what you love, then you never work a day in your life.”
Courtesy of PRCA
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