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 Jimmy Shirley
Jimmy Shirley works and ropes, and for the 56 year old from Yucca Valley, Cali., that pattern of life suits him perfectly. “I love it! Rodeo is way too expensive for a hobby, so I don’t call it that,” he adds with a laugh. “It’s what I do to get my mind off business, but I enjoy the competition more than anything.”
Jimmy lived in California for the first 14 years of his life before his family moved to Oklahoma. Once there, he quickly traded team roping for tie-down roping. “To me, it was more of a challenge than team roping,” says Jimmy, though he won his first team roping about the same time. His dad and uncle took him to open and junior rodeos, and rather than high school rodeo, Jimmy entered amateur rodeos as he got older, buying his permit with the PRCA when he turned 18. “When I was young, I would run calves from the chute, and flank and tie them,” Jimmy remembers. “I’d go to school, then head to work, and then come home and flank and tie. I craved it!” Both ropers, Jimmy’s dad, Jim, and his uncle, Maurice, cultivated that craving in Jimmy. Maurice trained horses, many of which Jimmy rode.
In 1986, Jimmy moved back to California where he won the tie-down roping average in the IPRA’s Southern Region Finals twice in a row. He filled his card with the PRCA in California and pro rodeoed until around 2008. Jimmy joined the GCPRA in 2006, winning the tie-down roping average in 2007. “They’re good people, and as far as I’m concerned, that organization is the best,” Jimmy says of the GCPRA. He also competes in the NSPRA and the Ultimate Calf Ropings in Texas and Oklahoma.
Jimmy and his wife, Denise, now make their home on their three acres in Yucca Valley. They have two sons, Culp and Mase , who are both grown. Their horses are another part of the family, including Tuffy, Jimmy’s little gray roping horse. “He fits me really good, and he’s pretty consistent,” says Jimmy. “Tuffy will give you everything he’s got on every run. He’s been accused of being a Shetland pony, but he thinks he’s the biggest thing on the place.” Tuffy follows four other horses that particularly stood out in Jimmy’s roping career, but Jimmy has won the most money on the gray gelding.
During the week, Jimmy runs his construction business, James A. Shirley Construction, Inc. “We do public, private, and commercial work – whatever needs doing,” Jimmy explains. “I work in the office and the field – we employ about 25 – 30 guys.” Jimmy started his business in 1995 and incorporated in 2000, and while the company comes first, rodeo is a close second. Jimmy keeps plenty of roping calves on hand, and Denise runs the chutes and unties calves. “Denise and a friend of mine in Oklahoma are my coaches,” says Jimmy. “She’s been in the arena since we got married, and she knows how to tune me up!” In 2003 and 2004, the husband and wife were the world champion NSPRA ribbon ropers, while in 2004 Jimmy won reserve tie-down roping champion for the NSPRA year-end.
Outside of rodeo, Jimmy and Denise enjoy going to the mountains or going back to Oklahoma for roping, while Jimmy also hunts deer and elk. “But our life is pretty much rodeo!” says Jimmy. The sport has been an unending craving, and he plans to satisfy that craving for as long as he can step off Tuffy and tie calves.