story by Michele Toberer Anna Jae Griffin goes by AJae, and the Mississippi native has been a cowgirl for a lifetime, and a Southeastern Professional […]
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Meet the Member Jared Dillon
story by Michele Toberer
“I drew the short straw from the very beginning, and I wasn’t even supposed to be here. When I was 5, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and spent 3 years in the Birmingham Children’s Hospital doing radiation and chemotherapy after they removed the tumor. But I battled back from that, and here I am now, still chasing my dream of being a saddlebronc rider,” explained Jared Dillon of Fayetteville, Tennessee. “The only real after-effect the treatments had on me was it stunted my growth, I’m only 5’4”, but I’m 120 pounds of pure steel muscle.” Jared has used that strength to his advantage over the years, and at 31 years old now, he has ridden bulls, bareback, and saddlebronc horses for years.
At 16, Jared moved to South Carolina to live with his dad, Brian Dillon, and rode bareback horses in the South Carolina High School Rodeo Association while he attended Lugoff-Elgin High School during his sophomore through senior years. Brian worked as a rodeo clown at PCA rodeos and often helped rodeo producer, Mike Robertson, while raising horses and cattle. “My mom, Pat Dillon, has always been a horsewoman and worked on a big cattle farm in Illinois when she was younger.” That passion for horses passed on to Jared from both of his parents, and he didn’t want to quit riding even while he was going through his cancer treatments. “All I’ve ever wanted to do was ride, and as I got older, I was very blessed to train with some big owners and trainers that showed reining and cutting horses. I used to train with Charlie Hutton, who was the owner and trainer of New Chex to Cash.”
Although he still hangs on to his bareback rigging, and occasionally still rides bulls, in 2011, Jared switched to saddlebronc riding. “I had several injuries riding bareback horses. In 2007 I decided to try the pro ranks and had a life-threatening injury when I broke my neck on a bronc. I moved back to Tennessee to recover and was at a real crossroads in my life. I had to decide if I should quit rodeo and get a normal job or continue to chase my dreams. My mom has always been a huge influence and supporter and she encouraged me to keep being who I wanted to be and going where I wanted to go. She taught me to never let anyone shoot me down.”
Jared has been a member of the Southeastern Professional Rodeo Association since 2014, and he qualified for the SPRA finals as a saddlebronc rider in 2015, 2017, and 2018. He has worked as a full-time farrier, Diamond D Farrier Service, for 15 years, and he shoes approximately 450 horses each year between north Alabama and the middle of Tennessee. In Fayetteville, Jared owns and manages Diamond D Ranch, where he raises polled Herefords and raises and trains horses. “I also work at Elk River Trading Company, a gun shop in Fayetteville, for a little extra side money.” Jared has also fought bulls over the years and has his SPRA card as a contract bull fighter.
Jared’s pride-and-joy is his 3-year-old daughter, Dali, who was born with the same passion for horses and rodeo as he was. “She goes to every rodeo she can with me and is all about the horses and the bucking chutes. She is growing up like I did, and I wouldn’t doubt she makes a living this way one day.”
Jared has had several shoulder issues that have kept him from competing as hard as he’d like recently, but he’s feeling determined to hit the rodeo trail hard once again and make a run for the finals. “I’ve really got some good sponsors backing me, and although I’m competing against 18-19-year-old kids, I will never stop chasing my dreams of having great success as a saddlebronc rider. It doesn’t matter what anyone wants out of life, if your goals don’t scare you almost to death, you may not be looking high enough. I will do everything in my power to succeed.”
Sponsors: Decatur Industrial Supply Company, Gym Time, Dalton’s Gym, NastyRodeoCompany.com, and Elk River Trading Company.