World Champion Heeler Jhett Johnson answers Spin To Win Rodeo’s Facebook fans’ questions about his first PRCA world title, plans for 2012 and the technical side of his roping. If you’d like to have a pro answer your question next month, visitfacebook.com/spintowinrodeo and join in the discussion.
Caide Roberts: How do you keep your mind in the game after winning so much money so quickly? And how do you not let all the winning get to your head?
Well, we did well so early in the NFR that I was real sound about not changing anything. We just kept doing what we were doing early, and we got into a good rhythm. As for about not letting all the winning go to my head, it’s more of a business, it’s just what we do. We were out there to win the money. When we did it early it let a little of the pressure off. We went out there to do that and by Round 6 we had $70,000, and we knew it was a good Finals already. It’s exciting and depressing both to move on to 2012. A lot of the guys have laughed about it; winning that much in 10 days and then driving into a rodeo that pays $3,000 a go round. But it keeps you motivated, too. We’ve already entered Denver. I’m ready.
Dustin Smith: How do you rope so fast and so consistently?
My horse gives me a shot fast regardless of the handle. I don’t worry as much about timing as loop placement. I’m basically wanting to place a trap at the end of the switch, and I put that loop down. Turtle makes the steer go in my loop; my job is to place the loop. People try to rope the steer; I just place a trap and when Turtle pulls him forward he goes in it.
Daniel Aylward: Do you always just focus on the right hind leg or do you watch the hips then the leg?
I watch the head catch go on and then I look at both hocks at the same time. I try to place my top strand right in front of the hock and the bottom strand on the ground.
Mark A. Hickey: What’s in store for your 2012 season?
I’m going to rodeo this winter. I have land leased and have some cows bought. So in the spring I’m going to be doing some ranch work and calving, and in the summer I’m going to go rodeo. Ranching is what I grew up doing, it’s what I’ve done my whole life and what my family does. It’s a peaceful life compared to rodeo. When you’re rodeoing, it’s nothing but deadlines and entries. And the ranching is just a lot slower pace. It’s hard work but it’s a different kind of work.
Lynne Peck: What horse are you riding now?
He’s a son of Freckles Playboy, and he’s 15 years old. He’s the most athletic, quick-moving horse I’ve ever ridden in my life. He takes care of so much. My job is to ride him to the cow. And he takes care of stopping. You can get tight on that horse instantly. He’s all business every run. Whether I’m practicing or the first round of the NFR, that horse is 100 percent every time. My 3-year-old calls him Tony the Tiger.
Alicia Kellech: What is your greatest inspiration?
I’ve always been motivated to rope every steer as fast as I possibly could. My long-term motivation has always been to be one of the best. I grew up watching tapes and films of Clay O’Brien and Allen Bach and I was motivated to be one of them. It’s never been about money. And I guess to some it up, I’m motivated to be the best whether I’m here ranching, I want to have the best cow herd around and when I’m rodeoing I want to have the best horses.
Corey Rose: What is your best memory from 2011 season, other than winning the World?
When Turtle and I won Reno. It’s one of the majors. Cheyenne, Reno and San Antonio. If you win one of those, you’ve won one of the biggest team roping rodeos there are.
Damon Rogers: What happened to your grey horse?
I was rodeoing in 2008 and didn’t make the Finals. I priced him high, and he was right there in his prime, and somebody paid it. I didn’t make the Finals that year and basically money was tight. I didn’t know if I’d get to go to the winter rodeos, and I had a lot of people ask about him, so I sold him. His name is Shooting Sugar.