Max and George Ann Burch come from a long line of ranchers. The couple, who are in their 70s, met back in the 1950s in […]
On the Trail with Bobby-Jean Jones Colyer
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Bobby-Jean Jones Colyer had a love for horses long before she competed. Growing up in Bruneau, Idaho, in a town of 300, she borrowed a horse to help her get going. “It’s a cool story – my parents (Penny and Gary) couldn’t even put a halter on a horse, but I grew up in a ranching and farming community that helped me get started.” Bobby-Jean remembers struggling in school. “I wanted to be a cowgirl so bad.” She got her first job washing dishes to pay for her entry fees for high school rodeo. “With three kids there wasn’t’ a lot of money there.” Her dad was a wood shop teacher and coach for basketball and football. Her mom was a stay at home mom. “My dad traded for the first horse I owned. I always wanted to barrel race. That first horse I owned got me started at 12 years old.” Gary built a screened in porch in trade for a three year old horse. Bobby-Jean has two older brothers, James and Danny, neither one who competes in rodeo.
“I could never get her to bake cookies with me – she always wanted to be on a horse,” said her mom, Penny. “But because of this valley and her hard work and determination she did it.” Bobby-Jean is the only female that has ever won the Bruneau Round-Up All Around Championship – it’s a big deal. She has also qualified for the World Series Finale six times, as well as qualifying for the AMERICAN, and the Columbia Circuit Finals. “The biggest accomplishment to me is the fact that Gary and I aren’t rodeo people. We worked in the school district. She was two months old when we moved here – we didn’t have the means or the ways to get her there –she babysat and did whatever she could to get horseback.”
Once she got started, her love of rodeo grew. She started roping and set goals for herself. “When I reach one I want another one.” Her rodeo career landed her a scholarship to Bozeman, Montana, where she made the CNFR in the team roping, goat tying, and barrel racing – one of only two women that qualified in 2002 in the team roping. “I would have never gotten through school if not for rodeo,” she said, graduating with a degree in consumer science. Once she graduated, she went down the rodeo road, but ended up back home and married to Kyle Colyer in 2005. They have two children – Piper (14), Cruz (9). Kyle is a third generation rancher and shows Hereford cattle. She continued rodeoing and added a central entry line to her job description.
Bobby-Jean worked for Central Entry, now known as Rodeo Central, the entry system for the Idaho Cowboys Association, two others, as well as several open rodeos. She worked for Central Entry before purchasing it seven years ago. Orla Knight, former ICA secretary for 25 plus years,, developed an online entry system, with that Bobby Jean has made some new improvements. “We worked with a developer, Advanced Software, to offer central entry online to website,” explained the 39 year old. “Contestants can still call, but this gives them an option.” She starts in March and the rodeo season winds down the end of October. During that time, she employs several others to help take entries. “I have a lot of passion for the ICA – I’ve been a member for 17 years, winning Rookie of the Year in 2003. I also served on the board as a barrel racing director for six years.” Bobby Jean explains the rodeo draw as a 2,000 piece puzzle. “The computer isn’t always perfect. We have trades and everyone has to get everywhere … anyone in this business has to care about cowboys because they are not going to get rich doing it.”
During the peak season of taking entries, Bobby-Jean still makes time for practicing. Through her example, Bobby-Jean is hoping to bring back old fashioned work. “In this day and age I’ve read all the books, but there is no substitute for working hard no matter how hard it is. I worked my arena with snow in there and if I don’t get out there and practice, they are going to beat me.” She tells herself there is always someone else out there working at it and there is no substitute for working at it. “When I go to the practice pen I have a goal every time.”
She recently competed in the Art of the Cowgirl Worlds Greatest Horsewoman in Phoenix. “Go big or go home – I split first in the last two events – steer stopping and fence work; after not doing very well in the first herd work and reining. I knew I had to lay it all out there in order to make the top ten finals where it would be a clean slate. 59 would have to check for sure – there’s a lot of very accomplished horsewomen in that and I had to go for it.” She ended up third place overall. She is hoping to find another show horse and is preparing for the Perfect 10 World Series event in Las Vegas in March.
Bobby-Jean continues to train her mind. “I think that having a good mental mind is the only thing that makes it at the end of the day. I’m not always there, but I’m working at it all the time. When you’re passionate, emotions go with it. I’ve always been passionate about horses – they’ve been my go to – when things are rough, I go get on the best in the pen – and the best one always turns things around for me.” Bobby-Jean loves to compete. “It’s not about beating someone it’s about reaching individual goals.”
Her dreams include becoming successful in the reined cowhorse. “I want to change people’s lives by hearing my story and drive them to follow those dreams and goals with horses even if they didn’t grow up with horses or have a lot of money.”