story by Lindsay Humphrey If you don’t recognize Bode Baize by his name, you’ll surely know him by his tack of choice: Corriente. His dad, […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Jeanette Hamilton
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Jeanette Hamilton is living proof of this timeless mantra. “My brother (Al Grieve) was a professional bull rider when I was a growing up,” said the Silver City, New Mexico, native. “When I was little (1966) I saw him compete and I remember three things: I got away from my mom, met Festus from Gunsmoke and I saw the barrel race. It was exhilarating and that’s what I wanted to do from then on.” Jeanette’s mom was raising three kids on her own after becoming a widow. Jeanette didn’t have many riding opportunities until the family moved to the Navajo nation where her brother lived with his wife.
“We moved to Standing Rock Trading Post, New Mexico, when I was 14 and I got to ride my brother’s horses. I taught myself how to ride from reading books.” When Jeanette was in high school (1977), she became a member of the Girls Rodeo Association – now the WPRA. Jeanette wasn’t able to travel much as a teenager and it wasn’t until her late 20s that she actually filled her permit. “I worked as a waitress, so I rodeoed on a shoestring. I had a one-horse trailer and I slept in my truck. If I didn’t eat, that was okay as long as my horse ate.” This continued for a few more years before Wranglers Shirt Tail came into the picture.
The 4-year-old off-the-track Quarter Horse only had four starts to his record, but he was about to make a new name for himself on the clover leaf pattern. “I really liked him, but he was $3,000 and I didn’t have that kind of money. I went to the bank and got a loan for him. And that’s how I bought my first pro horse.” In just a few years, the duo landed at the Turquoise Circuit finals and the Grand Canyon Professional Rodeo finals in 2000. They were set to do the same in 2001 when the gelding passed away during surgery. “Horses like that don’t come along very often. I tried some other horses and did a little bit of amateur rodeos and jackpots.” Amid all this, Jeanette got married and had her first son, Bryan, who’s now 41 and working as a sou chef.
It was 2011 when Jeanette’s second once-in-a-lifetime horse would find his way to her doorstep. “I connected with a woman online who had a horse that she wasn’t running because she was hurt. To make a long story short, she really wanted me to have him and saved him for about a year and a half.” It was March of 2012 when Jeanette was contacted yet again about buying this horse. A verbal agreement was struck and in June 2012, Brother Dave stepped off the hauler’s trailer. The off-the-track Quarter Horse had nine starts in his short racing career.
“He’s what you would call a fire-breathing dragon, but we clicked right away. He’s a very high-powered horse, so it took a bit to get each other figured out in the arena.” To this day, when Dave gets excited his racing roots shine through as he tosses his head and trots sideways. The first big win for the new team was also sentimental. They won the buckle at the Grant County Fair in 2015. It was the rodeo Jeanette grew up watching and it helped solidify her love for the sport. The following year the pair qualified for their first NMRA finals and continued this trend in 2017. “He won both rounds and the average. The only reason we didn’t win the year-end is because we didn’t haul enough through the year.” The came back to the finals in 2018 and 2019 to win more rounds, money, buckles and finally the saddle.
Dave’s high-power has made him a bit accident prone, but Jeanette’s given him everything he needs to recover from each injury. He’s still recovering from a fist-sized hole he put in his chest in 2020. Jeanette’s optimistic about the 2022 season as she plans to get him legged up for the first NMRA rodeo in April. As the NMRA’s incentive barrel racing director, Jeanette is excited to welcome Freeport McMoRan as the event sponsor for the finals as well as the Gas Company of New Mexico as a generous donor.