Jake Long has amassed more than $2 million in Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association earnings since joining the association in 2003, a feat that puts the Kansas native in rare ProRodeo company.
Long entered the 2021 season with $1,848,115 in career earnings and proceeded to win $199,062 this year heeling for Clay Tryan.
"It means I’ve been blessed," Long said. "It’s a cool honor to get into that club and to have that much success. It’s something I don’t think I ever thought I’d do and I’m honored to do so."
That $2 million does not include the hundreds of thousands in jackpot earnings Long has accrued, including titles at the Bob Feist Invitational, the Wildfire Open to the World, the HorkDog and the George Strait Team Roping Classic.
Long has earned a trip to the NFR 11 times in his career, missing the cut only once (in 2013) since his first Finals in 2010. He finished third in the world in 2016 when he roped with Luke Brown, winning a career high $225,091 that year.
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"The beauty of the Finals is that if you’re fortunate enough to go enough times, you have years you feel like you’ll never win again, and some you’ll never lose," Long laughed.
In 2021, he and Tryan finished sixth in the world and placed in five rounds at the NFR, including tying for a 3.7-second go-round win in Round 7. They finished the rodeo fifth in the average.
Long has been fortunate enough to have ridden three-time AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse of the Year Zans Colonel Shine for the lion share of his career.
"I would have to say Colonel is easily responsible for over a million of my earnings," Long said. "The one I’m riding now has only been in the trailer the last year and a half. Colonel would have to be at least half of it."
Replacing Colonel has been the great struggle of the most recent part of Long's career, he said, keeping him working toward improving his craft through the constant search for horsepower.
[WATCH: Tryan and Long Go 4-Flat at Cody]
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"It’s getting harder to do with the World Series paying like it does," Long said of the constant search for horses. "People don’t want to part with their horses. You used to be able to go find a cutting reject. But now those horses are more expensive because we've mined that well for so long. You have to pay more for unproven horses. I was extremely blessed to have Colonel and Ironman going for 8-9 years. I was as deep as anybody was going all that time. Now I have one I love, and one I like OK, and everything else is hurt or retired. That’s the hardest part—trying to get my herd going deeper. It’s more challenging when you’ve only rode great ones. If you’ve only rode average horses, it’s easier to replace those."
Long plans to rope with Tryan again in 2021, in a partnership that's lasted since 2019. At just 37, Long's career is far from done. His kids—Haven, 13, and Haizlee, 9—and his wife Tasha travel with him on the summer run and enjoy themselves, and they're generally all able to stay near home in Texas the rest of the year.
"I guess there’s three checkmarks for me as a team roper. As long as I still love doing it, I want to do it. I love going up and down the road and going to all the rodeos. The kid in me still thinks it's awesome to be doing this. You either quit winning or guys quit wanting to rope with you, and that’s what will drive you out as a team roper. I hope I’m smart enough to realize I need to quit." TRJ