story by Michele Toberer Dale Davies has been blessed to live a life centered around horses and rodeo. Growing up in Fort Collins, Colorado as […]
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Meet the Member Matt Morford
by Lily Weinacht
Matt Morford is a team roper in the GCPRA, joining the association in 2015. He and header Ty Thomas won the second round of the GCPRA finals in the incentive team roping, while Matt, 41, also competes in the World Series of Team Roping. Matt lived in Indiana until he was eight, but when the humid air negatively affected his asthma, he and his family followed his grandmother to The Grand Canyon State. The Morfords had shown horses in Indiana, but discovered that team roping was to Arizona what horse shows were to Indiana. “I wasn’t making any money at showing – not that many people were doing it – so I had to find something else to do,” Matt recalls.
“I started cutting when I was going to Gilbert High School, and there were quite a few people that roped in my school. My friends helped me start roping, and from then on, I just practiced a lot.”
Taking his newfound passion to the next level, Matt rodeoed for Central Arizona College and climbed in the standings. His step-dad had ridden bareback horses in the 1970s and took up team roping afterward, helping Matt with his technique. “He gave me a foundation so I’d have something to go back to. My motivation is that I want to rope well, and I’m to the point where it’s fun to rope with some of these guys that I’d never been able to
rope with before. I have to keep practicing so I can keep partners in front of me, and you won’t win if you aren’t practicing.”
Matt met his roping partner, Ty Thomas, when he moved into Matt’s neighborhood in Stanfield, Arizona, two years ago.
“Ty was like me – he’d roped, but put it on
the back burner when he had a family. Before, I had mainly roped at jackpots, and it was a good opportunity for me to get behind Ty – he had the experience of going to rodeos. I’d always wanted to rodeo, but in team roping, you have to have that chemistry with the right partner.” Matt’s job has also given him the flexibility he needs to rodeo, working as the facility warehouse manager for a construction company. “I’ve been with them for sixteen years, and they give me the leeway in my work to rodeo.”
He rides an 11-year-old palomino, Little Shining Roy, aka Little Roy, who started out as a barrel horse for his daughter.
“I bought him in 2013 from a good friend, Cody Stouard, and that’s the most I’d ever paid for a horse. I’d really started roping again and heard about a truck roping, so I thought I could maybe win back what
I paid for him,” says Matt. “We went to that truck roping three weeks after I bought him, and we won the truck. He has a forever home now. Roy is a grandson of Shining Spark, and he’s the reason I’ve been able to succeed these last three years. He runs so hard, I never have to worry about being in position.” Matt also rides a gelding, Highbrow Gangster, whom he calls Lefty, while his daughters, Makenna (10) and Tatum (16), compete in junior and high school rodeos. His wife, Jackie Shields, is a barrel racer, and currently works as a realtor.
When Matt and Jackie aren’t practicing or taking their daughters to rodeos, Matt enjoys playing golf, or barbecuing and watching football with friends. “My goals are to win rodeos and World Series ropings this year,” he finishes. “Wanting to be the best is what drives me, and it feels good to see the hard work you put in accomplish something.”