Erin Johnson has always believed in being consistent over the long haul. That consistency has brought the 42-year-old mother of three to the NFBR three […]
Jimmi Jo Montera
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Jimmi Jo Montera loves to rope. “We started riding when we were three and roping when we were four,” she shared of her childhood with her older sister, Shannon, and brother, Shawn. “I tried barrels a little bit, but never got too excited. We tried horse shows too and it was boring. I love to rope and I love to tie goats.”
Jimmi Jo grew up outside Longmont, Colo. Her parents, Jim and Shirley Martin, began Colorado Animal Health 40 years ago and although Jim wasn’t raised roping, after college he took up roping as his kids were learning about rodeo. All three competed in National Little Britches and High School rodeo. Jimmi Jo went to Otero College for one year, following her sister there, and then switched to the University of Wyoming from 1987 – 1990, under the coaching of Pete Burns and Danny Dunluvy. “Jimmi Jo is as good a hand as I’ve ever worked with, man or woman,” said Pete. “I didn’t have to do a thing with her – all I did was load calves and give her a scholarship.” Her abilities across the various events came to fruition in 1990 when she alone won the women’s team enough points to take the National Women’s Intercollegiate Team Championship Title. She won the All Around Cowgirl of the NIRA, placed in the breakaway, took second in all three rounds of goat tying and won the average.
After college, Jimmi Jo took her degree in merchandising and marketing and went to work for her dad. “I did the in-store buying until I got pregnant with Colby, then I went back part time.” Colby had heart surgery at two days old and open heart surgery when he was six months old. “Obviously that didn’t stunt his growth,” said Jimmi Jo of her 6’5″ basketball playing son. Garrett came along a few years later and Jimmi Jo stayed home for ten years raising her sons. Both excel at basketball and she spends her time helping them pursue their goals to be pro ball players. “My boys are 16 and 13 – huge basketball players. Between my practice and getting them to club basketball – that’s what I focus on. Colby and Garrett have been involved in basketball since fourth grade.” They attend school 25 miles from home, Fossil Ridge High School and Preston Junior High. “We really like the schools and they are very competitive,” she said.
Competitive is something the boys inherited from Jimmi Jo. Years after winning the team championship, Jimmi Jo is still working every day to improve her roping. Her most current win was the Wild Fire, heeling for Lari Dee Guy. “That is one of the best all girls ropings and I’ve come close to winning it before, but I’d never won it. It pays really good for an all girl roping.”
Jimmi Jo is concentrating on the little things in her roping and riding. “I’ve gotten better, but I’m not where I want to be,” she said. “During the fourth (of July), I see all these guys come through here and practice and you see how good they are – it’s no mistake that’s why they are good.” Jimmi Jo works closely with Speed Williams on her roping. “I’m working on position right now – Speed is helping me a lot. He preaches to me – the roping part is easy, but I don’t ride my horse right or make my horse work right. So I’m paying attention to that.” She has realized through the years that it is one thing to practice and another thing to practice productively. “I’ve gained information from great ropers like Speed, Alan Bach, and others that made me think about things a little differently.” She still heads some, but likes heeling much better. “I feel like I’ve studied it a lot and worked on it. In the time frame I have to practice, I want to focus on my heeling. It works out well because Rick (her husband) likes to head.” The couple, who married six years ago, have been around the rodeo and roping pens for years. “Rick and I we go roping all the time; he supports my roping – he loves it as much as I do.” Their place, located east of Ft. Collins, Colo., includes a barn that Jimmi Jo spends a fair amount of time at.
“We don’t have people over for dinner, we have people over to rope,” she says with a laugh. “We also host a few charity ropings in the barn, but it stays pretty busy in here with ropers all year long,” she said. At one of the events this year, the Bill Perusek Memorial Roping, Jimmi Jo won the saddle and immediately gave it to a little girl in the audience that was all decked out in her western attire while maneuvering little crutches. “I’d seen her there and she loved horses – she had her boots on and there was something about her – I could have lost Colby and it just hit me how fortunate I was – we are – to be able to do normal activities.”
She has a busy October between her roping and her sons’ ball games. She and Rick will haul up to Billings Mont., the beginning of October for the Wrangler Finals and will finish the month in Oklahoma City at the USTRC Finals (October 26 through November 3.) She hauls three horses – Chain Saw, who she got from JW Borrego, Chica, from Gary Grokett, and Rango, from Chris Glover. She’s got two others that she practices on and young horses that are coming along. “I’m a horse collector – I’ve got lots of them. I could have a whole herd – it wouldn’t bother me.” She also recognizes that roping at her level requires great mounts. “It’s hard to take a young horse and win right now, there’s no cheap roping. Look what you’re asking these horses to do. Go from a dead stop to blowing their guts out, sliding around the corner, dead stop, take a hit, do it again fifteen times at a jackpot.”
She practices at least four days a week, and ropes the dummy in between. “You have to rope the dummy correctly, you can actually reinforce bad habits on the dummy. I’ll rope the dummy to work on little weaknesses I’ve got.” She is also a regular at the gym. “I broke my back (L4 & 5) nine years ago, so it’s fused. Working out is one thing I do pretty faithfully because if I don’t, I can’t rope. At the US finals, I can go a week, but by the time I get home I can tell.” Her workouts consist of free weights, stability ball exercises, bands, elliptical, treadmill, and the bike. “I’ll do some basketball with my boys too,” she said. “I don’t feel good when I don’t work out, it’s a habit. I like working out.” She is also a regular at the chiropractor and sticks to a healthy diet. “I try to eat right 75% of the time – I stick with the simple stuff – fruit, good yogurt, and I pack a lot of protein bars, nuts, and almonds. My favorite are Kind bars – they are mainly nuts and coconut. I love Mexican food, and I rarely buy packaged food, or eat fast food.”
Jimmi Jo plans to continue to improve and win. “I’d like to win the US finals coming up and the Wrangler Finals next week.” She sees team roping as a sport continuing to grow thanks to the numbering system and the national sponsors that step up to assist with the cost of going down the road. “There’s people that can compete and win that can’t rope365 days a year and that’s part of the draw. When I was young, I had to go in the mixed ropings and rope against people like JD Yates.” She has also seen the increase in talent that has come along with more instruction. “It’s just like any sport – there are more tools – we didn’t have all the learning DVDS. I watch the Patrick Smith video – I wish I would have had that when I was young. My dad was learning and I would learn from him … my parents worked hard to afford our horses and rodeo. We did what we could and got information where we could.” She will continue to improve and work on the details that make her a strong competitor. Her sponsors include Classic, Wrangler, and Speed Williams. She is grateful to them for continued support and plans to represent them for a long time. “I never think ‘Gosh, I don’t want to go rope.’ I’m fortunate that my husband loves to do it. And I’m fortunate that I can fit it in. I just love to rope.”