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 Ron Hirsch
story by Lily Weinacht
Ron Hirsch calls Sonoita, Ariz., his home today, but the first generation rodeo competitor entered the sport in the colder climes of Highmore, S.D., a member of the 4-H rodeo team. “Neither my mom or my dad rodeoed. I grew up on a cattle ranch my dad worked, and I got started in the 4-H rodeo association, which was a big deal,” says Ron, 56. “They didn’t have junior high rodeo at the time, so I rode calves and steers and breakaway roped, and then started riding roughstock in high school rodeo. In just that little community, if you were to draw a 60 mile radius, the number of rodeo competitors I grew up with that lived within that radius and went on to the NFR is considerable. I rodeoed with all three of the Etbauer boys, and Tom Reeves wasn’t too far from us. We used to ride bulls all the time at Marty Melvin’s, one of my best friends, and Roy Durfey graduated high school with my older sister. It was tough in that high school rodeo, so you went in with your hammer cocked, and it made you very competitive!”
Following high school, Ron continued ranching in Highmore until 1985, when he moved to Phoenix seeking warmer weather and a new adventure. Five years later, he went to work for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer and joined the law enforcement’s rodeo association in 1992. “I’d met my wife, Linda, several years earlier, and she got me into team roping. Before that I’d been doing bareback, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, and steer wrestling, but she got me into roping and I was hooked.” Ron eventually switched to tie-down roping and competed in the event until 2004 when the law enforcement’s rodeo association dissolved.
He had joined the GCPRA several years earlier, and served as the incentive tie-down roping director in 2004 and 2005. “As a director, it wasn’t difficult, but choosing the ropers that are incentive or open and drawing that fine line can be stressful,” Ron explains. “I enjoy the camaraderie of rodeo and the people I’ve met and friends I’ve made. And being in an association that has a level of competition I can compete in and still win at my age is what really draws me.” He saw that success in 2015, qualifying for the GCPRA finals in the incentive tie-down roping. It was his second season competing again after taking a six year break from the rodeo circuit to haul his son, Zane, to junior and high school rodeos. “Zane graduated high school in 2012, and the next year, I went to work for the Arizona Department of Agriculture as a livestock inspector. After I finished my training, I decided in May of 2014 it was time for me to start rodeoing again! I roped very few calves in those six years, so it was tough getting back, but we made the finals in 2015 and hopefully we’ll be back again this year.” Linda also quit rodeoing in 2006, but rarely misses a rodeo weekend with Ron, while she’s also worked in the food service industry, and feed store business.
Ron rides an 18-year-old Driftwood bred bay gelding, Sneakers. “People say you get one good horse in a lifetime, and this is him,” he says. “We figured if Zane was going to rodeo, we’d steer him toward the roping, and he’d need a pretty good mount. Zane started on him when the horse was four or five, and I can mount just about anyone on him today. Since he’s getting older, I’m seasoning a Quarter Horse mare, JJ, and I’m hoping to ride her in my hometown Grand Canyon rodeo in Sonoita this September. The ultimate goal is to win a year-end title. I’d really like to make the finals on my new horse so I can give Sneakers a break, but I know he’ll get me there if I need him.”