story by Ruth Nicolaus Mark Bowers has a most unlikely rodeo story. The Colorado Pro Rodeo Association member has never competed in rodeo. But he’s […]
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Meet the Member Erin Johnson
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Erin Johnson loves the competition and challenges rodeo provides her.
The Fowler, Colo. cowgirl is a long-time Colorado Pro Rodeo Association member, as well as being part of the Women’s Pro Rodeo Association.
She grew up in a ranching family, competing a bit in team roping at a few local gymkhanas and Little Britches Rodeos.
But during her time in college at Chadron (Neb.) State and Colorado State University-Pueblo, her breakaway career began.
During her freshman year in Chadron (1998-99), she took her horses but never intended to compete collegiately. Her horses were boarded where the rodeo kids’ horses were, so she began roping and practicing with them, and it turned into college rodeo.
She rodeoed for Chadron for a year and then transferred to Colorado State University in Pueblo, competing for them for three years and graduating with a degree in accounting in 2004.
It was CPRA rodeo that helped her hone her talent. In college, “I was still in such a learning curve at that point, learning the mental aspect and how to win. My roping was pretty good,” she said, “but my head and the pressure got in the way a lot.”
Erin’s first year of CPRA rodeo was in 2000, when her roping started to mature.
Since then, she’s competed at nearly every CPRA finals, just missing a few years for pregnancy and babies and winning the breakaway seven times (2003, 2005-06, 2008, 2012, 2015, 2018).
She became a WPRA member in 2007 and shortly after that, started working to get CPRA rodeos co-approved with the WPRA. She served as CPRA breakaway director from 2007 to 2009 and again this year. In the WPRA, she has won three breakaway world titles (2011-12, 2015).
She and husband Darnell married in 2007 and have three children: son Denton, who is nine, and daughters Evin, age six, and Annie, age four. Her pregnancies always seemed to interrupt the biggest part of the summer rodeo season, and she jokes about it. “I think it was intentional on my husband’s part because he wanted my horse,” she laughs.
She and Darnell live on a small farm/ranch near Fowler, where she hopes to give her kids the chance to grow up like she did. Denton loves the equipment the family owns as part of their excavating business, and the two girls are “horse-crazy,” she said.
Erin loves the challenge that rodeo in general, and breakaway roping specifically, offers. She loves to win, but the challenge her sport presents keeps her intrigued. “In some things, once you master them, you’re at the top of the game.” But rodeo isn’t necessarily like that. “You can be a champion one year but there is no guarantee it will ever happen again. It’s a constant challenge to stay competitive.”
There’s plenty of personal growth in rodeo, too, she said. “It goes beyond even a challenge to win. I’ve done a lot of growing, in my mental game and how I handle winning and losing. Rodeo is humbling. It can make you feel on top of the world or it can humble you in a second.”
The sport of breakaway roping is advancing and for that, Erin is grateful. “It’s getting so much more competitive. Now there are opportunities for it where there never was.” The competition is sharp, too. “There are girls I’ve never heard their names and they’ll out-rope you in a second. It keeps you on your toes all the time.”
Erin has qualified for the first ever National Finals Breakaway Roping in Arlington, Texas this month.