Story by Ruth Nicolaus Because of his parents, Scott and Jenee Holub, and his granddad, George Rachau, Dillin Holub is involved in the sport he […]
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Meet the Member: Payton Jones
story by Lily Weinacht
For Payton Jones of Gansevoort, N.Y., life within or outside of the roping box is approached much the same. “Don’t give up, keep that positive attitude, and stay uplifting,” says the 20-year-old breakaway roper. “If I get a challenge, I conquer it. I don’t like to think negatively.”
Payton stepped into the saddle for the first time when she was eight, and her go-getter attitude took the first generation cowgirl to the AFR and the APRA Rookie of the Year title in 2013. She has returned to the AFR every year since, winning the average in the breakaway roping twice. “I had no background in rodeo and I’d never been on a horse until I started riding lessons at my best friend Emily Arnold’s house,” Payton explains. “She and her older sister put me on some awesome horses and got me into this sport. I love to rope – it’s my favorite thing to do, and no matter how I do, I have fun. I’ve made some great memories with Emily, and when you win, it makes it ten times better!”
One of Payton’s favorite rodeos is held in Chatham, N.Y., where she won the Champions Challenge in 2015. “That’s the top ten girls in our area competing, and I was the last one out. It came down to the wire!” says Payton. She’s been coached over the years by Emily and Emily’s fiancé, Eric Fabian. “They’ve mentored me and hauled me everywhere, and pushed me to be the best I can be. I owe them a lot, and they’ve made me the roper I am today.”
Her roping horse, Nova, started out as a barrel horse that Payton bought in 2010 when she was trying her hand at chasing cans. “We ran barrels for a year, and I hit every barrel in every run I had,” Payton recalls with a laugh. “I thought I’d try breakaway, and Nova is bred to be a rope horse. She took to it like she’d been doing it her whole life. It took part of a spring and summer to season her and I won my first saddle and buckle on her.” Nova stays at Emily’s house, where Payton comes to practice daily, either on horseback, or at the very least, roping the dummy. “My favorite part about roping is pitching my slack and having my horse stop, then hearing the crowd roaring,” describes Payton, who’s also learning to team rope.
Outside of the arena, Payton lets her positive attitude shine in a different way, working as a teacher’s assistant with fourth graders at an elementary school. “I’m working with special education children, and there’s nothing better than seeing the smiles on their faces when they understand something, and knowing that you helped them get there.” Payton is also a junior at SUNY Plattsburgh, majoring in psychology. She’ll finish her bachelor’s degree next year and plans to continue working in special education.
Any free time is most likely spent with a rope in her hand, but Payton does occasionally exchange it for a hand of cards with Emily and Eric. Given the choice of spending a day however she chose, Payton would undoubtedly spend it with roper Jackie Hobbs-Crawford. “It would be a crazy cool experience to spend the day learning and roping with her,” says Payton. She will, however, have the opportunity to rope with Lari Dee Guy and Hope Thompson, who are putting on a roping clinic at Emily Arnold’s house in May.
As for her goals, Payton hopes to join the IPRA in the next year while continuing to compete in the APRA. “I’d love to win the average again at the AFR and win some of the bigger rodeos like Attica, but my main goal is to win the year-end for the APRA!”