World Championship Ranch Rodeo Results

Some Colorado cowboys come out on top, with the help of cowy American Quarter Horses.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Cowboys from the Jolly and Lord Ranches work together to win the 2014 World Championship Ranch Rodeo. (Credit: Journal) Scroll to the slideshow below to view more photos.

“Fusion” is a trendy thing to talk about now in the food world. When two seemingly very different cuisines intersect, the result can be fresh and phenomenal. When different facets of the horse world intersect, the results can be just as amazing. Witness the Colorado cowboys from the Jolly Ranch in Agate, Colorado, and the Lord Ranch in Lamar. 

This concoction starts with one cutting-horse exhibitor and breeder. Mix in some Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association roots and a few college rodeo and circuit rodeo competitors, and sprinkle liberally with real ranch and feedlot work. The end product? Some newly minted 2014 world champions, crowned at the Working Ranch Cowboys Association’s World Championship Ranch Rodeo, which culminated November 9 in Amarillo. 

The team consists of Jesse Jolly and Dustin Bowling, brothers-in-law who help run the Jolly Ranch’s 400-head cow/calf operation; Nick Peterson, who roped with Jesse in college and now day works for the ranch; Phy Lord, a former PRCA team roper who now manages his family ranch with the help of his wife, pro barrel racer Shali Lord; and Kyle Spitz, who bred many of the horses used by the team. 

“I’m pretty proud of my horses,” Kyle says. But he’s not given to bragging; the AQHA database has to do that for him. Kyle’s stallion – the sire of several team horses – is Big Swing, whom Kyle purchased as a yearling and who earned more than $91,000 in the National Cutting Horse Association. Kyle is an AQHA life member and a cumulative 10-year breeder. He has a band of Big Swing daughters that he plans to breed to the horse he was riding at the championship ranch rodeo, a palomino stallion named Nacho Cat. He’s a 4-year-old son of High Brow Cat, out of a Smart Mate mare, who has also won a little NCHA money. 

“He’s just 4, but he has come together good, going to these things,” Kyle says. 

It took five tries at qualifying rodeos before the team earned a slot at the 2014 championship. But the cowboys were determined to make it to Amarillo a second time “to show that maybe we could compete a little better,” says Jesse, who competes in circuit rodeos in saddle-bronc riding, steer wrestling and team roping – all skills that came in handy at this event. “Last year was our first year (at the WCRR), and we were kind of wowed by the level of competition here. I just think maybe we had a few jitters last year.”

Nick says the team switched some things up – like who competed in which event – and fine-tuned the strategy. “We kind of hung our head last year, and it feels good to come back and do good,” he says.

But there’s a lot more to ranch rodeo than just the thrill of winning.

“I love the ranch rodeos,” Phy says, “just the people and the friends, and the group of guys that I’m with, they’re just fun, and we have a good time. We take it seriously, but not too serious. We just want to have fun, and hopefully everything works out.”

This year, it certainly did for the Coloradoans. 

“I was joking with one of my teammates when we were standing during the grand entry, I said, ‘We might accidentally win this.’ And we both laughed,” Phy says. “It’s just amazing. We thought we were OK after the first two nights, and then (Saturday) night we did good, and then (Sunday), we kind of struggled along. We thought maybe we’d given up (the lead), but it all worked out, and we just kept going.”

Their success is due in large part to their four-legged partners. 

“It’s everything,” Phy says of having a good, dependable horse. “It’s probably the most important thing. In the roping events, they have to be quiet and give you a shot.”

Phy rode a horse registered in his wife’s name, Docs Hotrod Playboy, whom he uses on the ranch. And he also borrowed one of Kyle’s good cutting horses to use in team penning.  

“You have to have the best,” he says, “and without them, you don’t have anything.” 
Another horse used on the team was H K Vagabond, ridden by Jesse and bred by the H K Ranch in Placedo, Texas.

“They’re really popular in the PRCA,” Jesse says of those horses. 

One of Dustin’s mounts was Beaulah Lil Heaven, a red roan granddaughter of Smart Little Lena and Docs Budha bred by Bar Nothing Ranch in Avondale, Colorado. 

“She’s got a lot of cow in her,” Dustin says. “You don’t really have to worry so much about where you think your horse is going to be, because they have their own mindset and the ability to just naturally be in the right position. With daily ranch work and a lot of arena work, they just kind of know where to be at all times, and you just have to worry about your own job.”

With the work that the cowboys do on a daily basis, they get plenty of real-world practice at the skills used at the championship ranch rodeo – or many of them, at least. 

“Our everyday jobs … we try to do everything ahorseback,” Dustin says. But the ranch bronc riding event? That’s one that they hope to not practice much at home. And what about the wild-cow milking event, which calls for one cowboy on horseback to rope an uncooperative momma cow, who is then “mugged” by three other cowboys on foot, one of whom must get some milk into a longneck bottle? Dustin just laughs at the thought of doing that on a daily basis. 

“But we do get a lot of roping in,” he says.  

Jolly Ranch & Lord Ranch of Agate and Lamar, Colorado 
Jesse Jolly, Dustin Bowling, Nick Peterson, Phy Lord and Kyle Spitz

Lonesome Pine Ranch of Cedar Point, Kansas
Bud Higgs, Troy Higgs, Makenzie Higgs, Frank Higgs, Chris Potter and Jess Coirier

Wilson Cattle & T4 Cattle of Hereford and Canyon, Texas
Rodey Wilson, Tyler Bridges, Jordan Satterfield, Jason Thomas and Caycee Jo Lewis

Crutch Ranch
Jake Mitchell, Mark Mitchell, Hegan Lamb, Shawna Lamb, Cody Heck and Chad Smith 

Jake Mitchell of Crutch Ranch

Rodey Wilson of Wilson Cattle

Lightning Blue Jazz, owned by Rodey Wilson of Wilson Cattle

Lightning Blue Jazz, owned by Rodey Wilson of Wilson Cattle

Little Tee J Paul, owned by Calvin Kendall of Beachner Bros. Livestock

Shaun Strickland of Tongue River Ranch. Shaun then split the award with Jeff Wayland of Davison & Sons Cattle Co., who was also injured at the WCRR. 

Tyler Rice of Sandhill Cattle Co.

Wilson Cattle & T4 Cattle of Hereford and Canyon, Texas

Buford Ranches-Craig County of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Arndt Ranch & Bailey Ranch of Emporia and Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

Stock Ranch & Diamond E Ranch of Bourbon County and Redfield, Kansas

Journal Coverage of the World Championship Ranch Rodeo

  • November 9 – Some Colorado cowboys come out on top, with the help of cowy American Quarter Horses at the World Championship Ranch Rodeo.
  • November 8 – This event offers AQHA a great chance to honor ranch horses and their breeders – and cultivate some new cowboys and -girls.
  • November 7 – The good ranch horses on display at the WRCA Youth Cow Horse Championship are helping make tomorrow’s cowboys and cowgirls.
  • November 6 – Top ranch horses come to town for the 2014 World Championship Ranch Rodeo.