The World Series of Team Roping has enticed competitors from all over the world who love the sport. At the 2013 Finale alone, there were ropers representing seven countries, all wanting a chance to compete for that celebrated payout.
A year ago, one might have thought Ty Parkinson was just a kid from Australia who got hit hard with the roping bug. To the contrary, he is one of—if not the best—cowboys to come from the Land Down Under, and it didn’t take him long to make a name for himself here in the States as well.
Hailing from Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia, Parkinson says that winning is quite possibly, “in the breeding.” His dad, Steve Parkinson, is an eight-time heading champion of Australia, and his mom, Dianne, is a seven-time breakaway champion and two-time all-around cowgirl. His sister, Candice, has won barrel racing titles, and his brother, Blayne, has won breakaway and bull riding titles.
Like many top athletes, Parkinson started early, riding steers at just 4 years old. By age 11, he was already being talked about—in a good way—as an Aussie phenomenon. Dominating junior rodeo in both the roughstock and roping events, he jumped straight into the Australian professional rodeo ranks. His learning curve was justly short, as he was named the Australia Professional Rodeo Association’s Rookie Heeler of the Year in 2012 at only 20 years old.
More recently, Parkinson toured with the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) in Canada, and won the Lakeland Rodeo Association and Foothills Cowboy Association bull riding titles while north of the border. He’s also ridden bulls in Mexico, and early this year jetted home to win the average and break two fast-time records in the team roping at the Australia National Finals Rodeo. Parkinson accomplished all of this by the ripe young age of 22. Shelley Productions employee Leon John Mounyo said it best: “He is the Trevor Brazile of Australia.”
When asked why he spends so much time in the United States, and why he chooses to rope at the WSTR events, he explained, “There is nowhere, anywhere, that you can ride to win that much money.” With all of his accomplishments, he said he has never won as much money as he did when he placed fifth at the 2013 WSTR Finale VIII in the #11 with partner and fellow Aussie Ben Smith. Winning a cool $47,000 at his first World Series Finale was a sure way to stay hooked on the sport—and he is.
Parkinson works for WSTR producer Troy Shelley, who has seen him rope everywhere from Australia to the practice pen, as well as at his own qualifier events.
“When I’ve seen him in the practice pen, he seems pretty average. But there’s something about him when he competes,” said Shelley. “He zones in and just knows how to win.”
Since the 2013 Finale, Parkinson has won $17,795 and has been bumped three number spots in three months—unheard of in the roping world. What’s more, a fourth bump is not inconceivable in the near future.
Parkinson doesn’t just spend his time here in the States roping, though. When he’s not working for Shelley Productions, he still gets on bulls when he can, entering events in Texas and Arizona. While several big wins at recent WSTR events—including a first place $8,075 paycheck at the WSTR Stephenville Qualifier in February and two fourth place finishes at the WSTR Dynamite Qualifier in Buckeye, Ariz.—have surely paid the bills, Parkinson’s not ready to hang up his hat on the roughstock end. And why should he? Humbly, he won’t admit to being better at one event over another.
“I don’t know, really,” he laughed. “I have won titles in different things, so I can’t really say what I’m better at. I really do enjoy it all.”
So, what does the future hold for this young, talented, all-around cowboy? That is a question even he’d like to ask. The United States is undoubtedly where he wants to be for now, but as of press time, Parkinson is back home, struggling through the long process of applying for a visa—a course of action which will allow him to return to the States with high hopes of fulfilling his rodeo dreams.
“Roping at the World Series events gives me the opportunity to win the kind of money I can’t win in Australia or anywhere else for that matter,” he explained. “You can’t beat the money or the competition level here in the States. Plus, I love the food here.”
Parkinson would also like to try and ride in the PBR here in the United States someday. Regardless of it all, he’s sending in his entry fees for the 2014 Finale:
“There is no doubt I will be back in December for the 2014 Finale…but hopefully sooner.”