Story by Ruth Nicolaus The Mid States East Rodeo Association member lived in Texas for five years before moving back to her parents’ farm in […]
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Meet the Member Jeff Thompson
story by Rayne Sherman
Jeff Thompson, of Pendleton, IN, is a tie-down roper in the Mid States Rodeo Association (MSRA) and has been a member of the association on and off for 14 years. He grew up trail riding with his parents, but it wasn’t until he met Ryan Free when he was 15 that he learned about roping. Ryan and another friend, Tony Castor, helped Jeff begin team roping. Jeff competed as a header in team roping in high school rodeo for two years.
When Jeff was 22, he decided to quit roping because he and his wife Michelle had just gotten married and purchased their first home. Jeff and Michelle had attended the same high school, but didn’t know each other because Michelle was two years ahead of Jeff. They met through mutual friends when Jeff was still in high school and have been married for 20 years. They have a six year old daughter, Emma.
After high school, Jeff attended a trade school to learn about heating and air conditioning. He got a job working for a commercial refrigeration company, but realized it was an occupation he didn’t enjoy. He then got a job at a boiler company and completed a pipe fitting apprenticeship. Jeff was also active as a volunteer fire fighter and EMT, but had to step down from the fire department when his job duties as a pipe fitter increased. Jeff is also a certified welder and works part time as a farrier. He currently works for Fall Creek Regional Waste District and has been there for 12 years.
Jeff decided to begin roping again when he was 28 and purchased a three year old mare he calls Lady Bug. Instead of team roping, Jeff began learning how to tie-down rope which was something he had wanted to do since his days in high school rodeo. Both Jeff and Lady Bug were new to tie-down roping so they learned the event together and were a successful team. Jeff credits Joe Jackson for helping him learn about training horses and Ronnie Hyde for teaching him about the competitive side of tie-down roping. Jeff and Lady Bug qualified for the Mid States Finals Rodeo once, the International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA) Central Region Finals once, and the IPRA All Region Finals once. Jeff is also a past member of the Michigan Roper’s Association. Lady Bug is now retired and Jeff has had his current horse, Snickers, for three years. Jeff feels that he and Snickers have finally clicked and they’ve placed at a few rodeos so far this season.
At 42, Jeff is one of the older tie-down ropers competing in the MSRA, but he plans to keep going as long as he feels competitive. When he retires from tie-down roping he would like to shift his focus back to team roping. Jeff would also like to do more with his family including taking vacations to Disney World and the ocean.
“I remember entering rodeos when I didn’t have a dime to my name and something would always happen so I could make it. I had money for fuel, but not fees and I would do anything to make it, I wanted it that bad. I’m older now and have a family and it’s not as important to me anymore, but I still have a great passion for it,” said Jeff.