HL Todd was larger than life. Whether it was riding his famous horse Rufus as he steer roped, hosting cowboys at his home in Burlington, […]
Roper Review: T.J. Jones
Written by: Teri Edwards< Back to Articles
Growing up, T. J. Jones knew from an early age he wanted to be a cowboy, a real cowboy. At the age of ten, his dad bought some property in the country and built an arena for his older brother to practice bulldogging.
Not long afterwards, the Jones had some friends come to their place with horses purchased in Mexico that they brought back to Texas to ride and sell. T. J. received specific instructions from his parents not to “mess with the horses,” since he didn’t know how to ride. With as much logic as a ten year can muster, T. J. figured what his parents didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt them. After school, before anyone got home from work, T. J. would catch the horses and ride them. As their friends prepared to leave, they told T. J. to pick out any horse of the bunch to keep. The stocking legged chestnut would be the first horse he ever roped on.
For the first couple of years T. J. and his uncle would chase cows in the pasture but never had any training. But once his cousin, Justin Parish, a trainer and accomplished roper, came to stay. T. J. soaked up all he could learn.
“He told me I could make my own horses and be able to rope,” explains Jones. “It fit me perfectly because it fulfilled my dream of being a cowboy, not a rodeo cowboy, but a cowboy.”
Parish helped young Jones get started with his roping at small jackpots, high school and youth rodeos. T. J. enjoyed success by qualifying for the state finals. In 2002 T. J. and close friend, Justin Walker, won the Pro Youth Rodeo Team Roping year-end championships with T. J. heeling. The following year, T. J. headed for Garrett Wright, winning the title once more.
“After high school I went to some college and pro rodeos,” says T. J. “It didn’t take long to realize I was a big fish in a small pond.”
This prompted Jones to work at and focus on his roping. While training and riding cutting horses, he was offered a chance to work for Allen Bach, where he says, “That was a fantastic opportunity and it helped my roping tremendously.”
T. J. would continue to train horses during the day and work jobs in the evenings to help supplement his income.
“I’ve been fortunate to have access to and advice from some of the best ropers going,” says Jones. “Jake Barnes helped me with the business aspect and the mental game. When my brother, Seth, and I became friends with Ryan Motes, that’s when I saw my biggest improvement.”
Last year T. J. married long time girlfriend, Jacquelyn and they currently live in Weatherford. Now, at 33, T. J. co-owns a successful construction business with his brother and enjoys training a few outside horses.
How much do you practice?
At least four times a week.
Do you make your own horses?
Growing up, who were your roping heroes?
Trevor Brazile and Jake Barnes.
Who do you respect most in the world?
My dad first, then Ryan Motes.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My dad and Ryan.
If you had a day off what would you like to do?
I would like to be cowboying somewhere.
McClintock, with John Wayne.
What’s the last thing you read?
How Champions Think by Bob Rotella.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Loyal, proud, hard headed.
What makes you happy?
What makes you angry?
When things don’t go as planned.
If you were given 1 million dollars, how would you spend it?
I would pay cash for a place, buy a new vehicle, and buy my wife a barrel horse.
What is your worst quality – your best?
My worst is being too hard on myself. Best quality is loyalty.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I see myself owning a successful company, a nice place and getting to rodeo more than we do now.