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 […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Tom Bill Johnson
story by Lily Weinacht
Tom Bill Johnson of Kirkland, Arizona, is the 2018 GCPRA Open Team Roping Heeler. It’s his second title—Tom Bill took home his first GCPRA champion saddle in 2016—won alongside his friend Trey Blackmore, who was the open team roping champion header last year. “I like to get away from the everyday grind of working all day, and being able to go and relax. I like hanging out and having a good time, and practicing—and it’s always a plus when you win,” says Tom Bill, who trains horses for a living. “(Roping) is really not about making money. It helps my business, and I enjoy seeing all my friends that rope and rodeo too.”
Prior to joining the GCPRA around 2000, Tom Bill lived in Laredo, Texas, for five years and worked for the King of Country, George Strait, training horses. A friend of Tom Bill’s, Cliff Davis, worked for George Strait, and Cliff’s parents told Tom Bill about the job opportunity, even offering to fly him to Texas for a week to visit George Strait’s ranch. “I broke colts, and then I’d break the horses and bring them up until they were old enough and turned them into rope horses,” says Tom Bill. “It was awesome. George is a great guy and he’s one of my good friends now.”
Tom Bill also competed on the PRCA Texas Circuit while he lived there and made the circuit finals several times roping with Chuck Doebler. “When I moved to Texas, I thought I was one of the better ropers in Arizona, and then I moved over there and I was the bottom of the barrel, so I had to learn to rope better,” he says with a laugh. “I started roping with Rube Woolsey—he’s been to the (NFR) Finals four or five times. They have a big match roping in Prescott, and Rube and I were matched against Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brian Cooper in 2007, and we beat them.”
When Tom Bill and his wife, Melainie, started their family, they moved back to Arizona and he joined the GCPRA soon after. He also joined the Turquoise Circuit, where he continues to compete with Nate Singletary, a fellow GCPRA team roper as well. In 1992, Tom Bill won the team roping at the CNFR, representing Arizona State University and heeling for Cutter Holt. He also rode broncs and roped calves, but after graduating with his associates degree in Ag. Business, he chose to focus on team roping as his main event.
Along with training horses, Tom Bill runs cattle on a ranch outside of Wickenburg and shoes horses. He also had a Driftwood stud and bred and raised horses for several years. He recently retired his roping horse of 14 years, Twister, and now ropes off of Roxanne, a mare he trained and rode at the 2018 GCPRA Finals. Both of Tom Bill’s daughters, Haley (19), and Taylor (17), enjoy roping, as does their mom, who is also a school teacher. “Taylor is finishing up high school and she enjoys going to ranch rodeos. Haley just went through basic training and now she’s in the National Guard,” says Tom Bill. “We bought her a horse and she’s learning to head. We practice together and I rope with my wife a lot—she heads very well.” The family also loves fishing and big-game hunting together when they’re not roping. Tom Bill is sitting in the top 10 of the GCPRA open team roping standings, and is working toward further qualifications to the GCPRA and Turquoise Circuit Finals. “And I just want to do the best I can for my family,” he finishes.