Jo Ann Mer­ritt

The 2009 win­ner of Reno’s Perry 'i oreto be­gins 2018 in the top spot on the USTRC Cinch Ladies Stand­ings with a $13,000 check at the 18th An­nual Lucky 777 in Fort Mo­have, Ari­zona.

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Ropers -

For the Win

I was rop­ing with Zane Wil­liams. We were sec­ond high call and we just made a nice lit­tle run. High call went out and boom, we were happy. That was in the #11. I was a 4-elite through the sum­mer, but af­ter that, I’m up to a 5.

Ev­ery­body Loves a Brown Horse

I was rid­ing Slider, a horse that my hus­band, Lory, and I kind of share. He heels on him and I head on him.

We’ve had Slider for every bit of four years. He’s cowhorse bred. We bought him off a ranch in Texas. He’s not NFR-qual­ity or noth­ing, but he’s just real de­pend­able and scores awe­some, and you don’t have to prac­tice on him. You just keep him in shape. He’s just a real, nice qual­ity bay horse. Ev­ery­body loves a brown horse.

Grow­ing Up WYO

I grew up on a ranch in Wy­oming. We ran a lot of cows and leased a lot of ground. We calved a lot of heifers.

Ac­tu­ally, un­til sixth grade, I went to a ru­ral school in the moun­tains around Laramie Peak. It was just my brother and me and then an­other brother and sis­ter that went to this one-room school­house with an out­house un­til I was in sixth grade.

My dad leased a ranch up there for about five years un­til my brother was in eighth grade, so we had to move to Wheat­land.

Ranch Gen­der Roles

I was never told, “Oh, you can’t do that be­cause you’re a girl.” Ev­ery­body joined in. You drove a trac­tor. You bucked bales. You fixed fence. You broke colts. It just didn’t mat­ter. My mom’s a wicked hand. My dad was just an un­be­liev­able horse­man. It was a great way of life. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I started rop­ing when I was pretty lit- tle and my dad needed help. He handed us kids ropes and he said, “Learn to rope stuff. Heel these calves when we’re trail­ing them, and rope brush, and drag logs, and get to where you can catch some­thing, and we’ll go doc­tor stuff.”

I was never given any kind of train­ing, no rules, no rop­ing dum­mies, no none of that. I mean, we didn’t have any of it. It was just, ev­ery­body had a cou­ple of ropes tied on and we went out, and you just learned to catch. You had to catch. And so that’s what we did.

Daddy-Daugh­ter Duo

My dad—he died this past Oc­to­ber— was a real good hand in and out of the arena. My brother wasn’t re­ally in­ter­ested in it, so it was just me and Dad. We got to team rop­ing a lit­tle bit, and we got to a bar­rel race every once in a while. He built an arena a cou­ple places we lived at and we’d go out there in the evenings if we had time, and we’d rope stuff and run some bar­rels and set up some poles. Then we’d slip off a lit­tle bit around Wy­oming in the sum­mer­time and rodeo.

Then, when I was a fresh­man, my dad said, “When we can, we’ll high school rodeo.” I started high school rodeo­ing more steadily af­ter that and got a col­lege rodeo schol­ar­ship.

Kin­dred Spir­its

I went to Eastern Wy­oming Col­lege for two years, then I went to Univer­sity of Wy­oming af­ter that and met Lory.

He grew up ranch­ing around Chey-

enne, so we kind of grew up the same way.

We started our life off right about that time, so I didn’t grad­u­ate from

UW, but kind of took classes all over once Lory and I got to­gether and got mar­ried.

I mar­ried way over my head. That was the first right thing I did, be­ing smart enough to marry Lory. We’ve re­ally had a charmed life. We’ve been re­ally blessed.

Train­ing Kids and Colts

I’ve got three boys. My old­est is about to be 27, and I’ve got iden­ti­cal twins that are 24. All the time when they were young, I trained and broke horses. We had a lit­tle ranch, and we had our cows and did all that stuff, but my fa­vorite thing to do was al­ways 0–60 days. We al­ways had a round pen and that was what I al­ways did when the kids were lit­tle. Ac­tu­ally, that’s what I al­ways did un­til I was about 43.

A sur­vivor's per­spec­tive

I got breast can­cer in 2011. That was a pretty long year, so I went to calm­ing down a lit­tle bit on all the horse break­ing.

It was stage 2. There were four tu­mors. My doc­tor caught it at an exam. I had a bi­lat­eral mas­tec­tomy, and I had chemo. I found it Jan­uary 12, 2011, so I’m a seven-year sur­vivor. It puts things in per­spec­tive and you just ap­pre­ci­ate every day.

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