story by Lindsay Humphrey What was once the capital of the Oklahoma territory – Kingfisher – is now the host of a rodeo that celebrates […]
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Meet the Member Tom & Tammy Peterson
story by Lindsay Humphrey
If you see Tammy Peterson in the winner’s circle, it’s possible she was running a team roping horse that used to belong to her husband, Tom. In fact, she ran the clover-leaf pattern for seven years on one of Tom’s heeling horses. “I always figured I could win the KPRA finals average on him because he was so consistent, but I never did,” Tammy said. “I was runner up on him two or three times and won the year end twice with him.” In the KPRA, Tammy has won the year-end barrel racing award four times on three different horses. It’s just one of her many accolades, but she’s proud of it for the simple fact that it’s hard to do.
If Tammy is driven by competition, then her husband, in true team roper fashion, is very much laid back. He’s certainly a hand, but he’s out there to enjoy himself. Despite his easy-going nature, Tom truly loves team roping. He’s been known to rope in less than desirable weather, Tammy said. In the KPRA, Tom is roping in the 40/40 but he still dabbles in the open. “My partner, Gene Jett, and I have roped together forever. We won the average at the KPRA finals in the open and we’ve made the finals for close to 20 years now.”
Now residents of Cimarron, Kansas, both Tom and Tammy harbor genetics rooted deep in rodeo. “My dad, Layton Gleason, rode saddle broncs and team roped for years. There are nine kids in his family and just about every one of them have been involved in rodeo,” Tammy said. One of her aunts, now 83 years old, still rides every single day. This is a feat both Tom and Tammy hope to replicate when they reach her age. “My dad bought my first barrel horse when I was 8 and he started taking me to amateur rodeos here in Kansas.” It was rare that Tammy was at a junior rodeo. Instead, she dove right in with the amateurs. She went on to high school and college rodeo before circling back to her home state and continuing the family tradition.
Tom, however, got a little different start to rodeo. Growing up in eastern Oklahoma, the event to tackle during Tom’s youth was bull riding. And that’s exactly what his family first pursued. “As we grew up, my older brother, Paul, started riding saddle broncs. We both went to Panhandle State and went from riding bulls and bareback horses to team roping.” The last time Tom slide his hand through a bull rope was the college finals. This rodeo couple met in 1986 and were married just three years later. They moved to Cimarron in 1993 and purchased their KPRA cards soon after and haven’t looked back since.
In the beginning of their KPRA career, Tammy commonly borrowed a team roping horse for barrels. But the tables have now turned as Tom has been known to use a barrel horse for heading practice. Traveling with your spouse can be a tough for some, but the Peterson’s have their roles figured out. Generally, Tammy is willing to drive longer distances which works out for Tom who is the homebody of the pair. The KPRA is great for this couple as they can reach most of the rodeos in just a few hours. Tammy is also responsible for paying the fees at every rodeo. “I’m superstitious. I keep paying the fees because it seems like I do poorly when he pays the fees, so I just keep paying them,” she said with a laugh.
Their storied KPRA career is punctuated by accomplishments of all sorts, but it’s chalked full of memories. “We’ve pretty well been to all of the KPRA rodeos,” Tom said. “We generally go to the same ones year after year. We enjoy all of them, so that makes it hard to pick a favorite.”