Doing the Math

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

I could feel the emotions starting to cut loose.

by Jessie Telford

For two weeks, I’d stayed focused on rodeoing and kept all my emotions penned up. But when I walked inside the living quarters trailer last Saturday after my run at San Bernardino and called my husband, Jake, I could feel those emotions starting to cut loose.

“I’m winning San Bernardino!” I told him. “With only one perf to go!”

We both knew what that meant. We’d been doing the math. We still had the rodeo in Stephenville the next day, but there wasn’t enough money left to win for anyone to get ahead of me.

“I’m so freaking happy for you, I can’t stand it!” Jake said. That was all it took for me to let go and have the tears start. Jake probably told me five times how proud he was of me for how I handled the pressure of the past week. I was traveling as hard as I’ve ever traveled, and I managed to win or place at seven of my final eight rodeos. I have to admit, I felt proud of myself. There aren’t many times when you get to say that. You might look back and say, I’m proud of how my horse worked or I’m happy with how I entered. Like any mom and wife, I probably do more for others than I do for myself. These past few weeks, I leaned on a lot of people for help so I could accomplish this for me. Getting it done felt good.

Sunday at Stephenville was a low-stress-I-don’t-care-what-the-hell-happens-I-know-I’m-fine kind of day. My friend Andrea Busby had packed a cooler full of margaritas. I might have had one before I ran. I definitely had a couple afterwards!

photo courtesy of Jessie Telford

photo courtesy of Jessie Telford

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Stephenville’s about twenty-three hours from where we live in Idaho. It took me two days to get home. Jake came and picked me up and gave me the biggest hug! My girls gave me a hug, too, but they were more interested in the turtle I brought them. We named her Shelly.

I found Shelly on the side of the road in Texarkana, two weeks earlier. It was pouring rain, and I thought, Oh my God, my kids would love that! We don’t have turtles in Idaho. During those two weeks on the road, Shelly lived on tomatoes, lettuce and apples and slept in the manger of the trailer. During the day, I duct-taped a piece of twine to her back and kept her staked down next to the trailer. It was kind of like a dog run, but she didn’t do any running. Carman Pozzobon said Shelly was good luck because she took all the slow out of me. She might be right!

After word spread that I’d made the top fifteen, I got about twenty texts asking if Shelly the good-luck turtle will be going to Vegas. I don’t know. But it couldn’t hurt.

Read more about the other CINCH JEANS and Classic Equine athletes who fought hard to make the NFR.

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