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Meet the Member Jake Moreland
story by Lindsay Whelchel
Generations ago, on the untamable frontiers of South Dakota cowboys were saddling wild horses and taking a ride. For Jake Moreland’s family, putting a leg over the animals was a rite of passage.
“My great granddad on dad’s side was a saddle bronc rider and grew up on the place, and my granddad always broke horses, and his dad broke horses, and my dad broke horses. It just runs in the family,” Jake says of the four-generation tradition. Growing up, he always loved the cowboy tales. “I always loved hearing those old stories, and maybe that’s what motivated me to ride saddle bronc. I sure love it, and I’ve had fun doing it,” he says.
It was only natural Jake would be drawn to the lifestyle. His mom, Jody and dad Quint, who ranch the long-held family homestead in Red Owl, S.D., entered a young Jake in calf ridings and mutton’ bustin competitions at ranch rodeos and brandings. He won his first buckle at the age of 8 at a Labor Day event.
Rodeo was a big part of the family too. “My mom’s family was big into rodeos, her dad did calf roping and team roping. My grandma was a barrel racer and my mom’s brother rode bulls, saddle bronc and bull dogged, calf roped and team roped. My mom did a lot of high school rodeo,” he says.
Now, Jake competes in the Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association as a saddle bronc rider. He’s one of six children, and his older brother did team roping and calf roping in high school, and his younger sister barrel raced. But for Jake, who fully embraced saddle bronc riding by his senior year in high school, the thrill of the ride sealed the deal in his event of choice.
“I’ve always been up for a challenge, and I love riding here at home on the ranch.”
He credits several good friends with their help in getting him to a professional level with the sport. He is now 22 years old and the director for the saddle bronc riding program for NRCA alongside his traveling partner Eric Gewecke, “I love the NRCA, because not only do you get to rodeo in South Dakota but also in North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska, because if you’re somewhere in South Dakota you can run over to Nebraska and hit a rodeo. It just works great, no need to just hit one rodeo a weekend, hit two or three if time is willing,” he explains.
When he’s not rodeoing or working the ranch, Jake works construction is Spearfish, S.D., and enjoys hunting and fishing.
But summers are for rodeos, and they’ve taught Jake a lot.
“Definitely patience,” he says of one lesson, and adds, “no rodeo is just 10 minutes away from the other rodeo. You’ve got lots of driving, lots of downtime. It just teaches you patience and also dedication, you’ve got to stay on your toes.” And, Jake would likely add, you’ve got to stay in the saddle too.