Three-time World Champion Clay Tryan has more won in early July 2022 than he’s ever had at this point of the ProRodeo season.
And he’s done most of that winning aboard a 12-year-old bay mare named BulletsOvrNiteSuxess from his home state of Montana.
Tryan, 43, who’s heading for his former world championship partner Jade Corkill again this summer, has $100,768 won on the year. That includes the $50,000 he won at RodeoHouston with Jake Long he won on the mare he calls “JLo”.
“It helps to win $50,000 in one place,” Tryan, who has 19 NFR qualifications to go with his three gold buckles, laughed. “But we’ve been placing around, and we haven’t gone to a ton of rodeos yet.”
Tryan and Corkill only went to five rodeos over the Fourth of July run, placing at four of them and winning big checks at Reno, too. Tryan rode JLo on all of them. Tryan’s catch-percentage is at 71% on the year, higher than nearly anyone else in the PRCA. That’s 47 qualified runs in 66 attempts, with 12 of those runs being in the 4.5-or-faster range.
“She’s fast, and she runs across there,” Tryan said. “What’s working good for me this year is that I can reach on her pretty good, and that’s what matters nowadays. They have to be easy to rope on. No horse is fast enough to just run in there all the time. You can’t do it or you’ll never win. The old days you could, but not anymore.”
Tryan has ridden three AQHA/PRCA Head Horses of the Year in Walt (owned by his brother Travis), Thumper and Dew, and he’s made the last six NFRs on a sorrel gelding he calls Johnson. He also rode the late, great mare Bear’s Cash Partner—who the called Cate—to the former season earnings record. Needless to say, he’s got an eye for a good one.
Tryan found the horse in his home state of Montana, where he first saw her at his father’s Wrangler Team Roping Championships in Billings.
“My brother had ridden her, and he told me she was really nice,” Tryan said. “I saw her at least a year, maybe two, before I bought her.”
JLo’s Early Excellence
JLo was underneath Radley Day, the son-in-law of her breeder, Bud Williams, when Tryan first saw her. Day and JLo had qualified for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee and had won the average at the Montana Circuit Finals, too.
For the Williams and his CUC Performance Horses, making JLo into an NFR-caliber head horse was a family affair. Williams owned her sire, Frenchmans Bullet, having bought her from Bill and Deb Myers. Frenchmans Bullet was an own son of Frenchmans Guy out of Pac A Dee, the Pac Bar mare that the late Brian Fulton made the Finals on in the tie-down roping. He also owned JLo’s dam, Beanie Baybe Chic, who is a maternal granddaughter of one of Williams’ favorite sires, Casady Casanova.
“My son Taylor put 60 rides on her as a 2-year-old, and then I started riding her,” Williams said. “I just used her on the ranch, and then I started her heading at 3 or 4. I brought her along a little bit, but I never really hauled her. She backed in the box and stood like a rock and scored good from the start. The first time she left home, she went to the Wrangler Finals in Billings and the second time she was in Vegas for the World Series Finale.”
JLo’s Unique Distinction
When Tryan rode JLo into the head box at the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, she made a unique bit of history. JLo and her full sister Baybe Bullet, ridden by Williams’ daughter-in-law and National Finals of Breakaway Roping qualifier Joey Williams, are the first full-sister combo to be ridden at the Finals by two different people, in two different events, in the same year.
“In horse breeding, there are things that don’t happen very often,” Williams said. “And having two full sisters you raised at the Finals the same year is one of them.”
Notably, Tryan’s mother, Terri Kaye Kirkland, rode home-raised full sisters at the NFR, too. (Fallon Taylor did, too, according to pedigree expert Tanya Randall.) For for two full sisters to compete in two separate events at the Finals the same year, that’s something else.