By Jolee Lautaret-Jordan
San Dimas, California—While it may have been some time since she's gotten to spend a lot of time there, Katie Pascoe is certainly no stranger to a rodeo arena. The Morro Bay, Calif., cowgirl grew up a member of a legendary pro rodeo family; her dad is John W. Jones, Jr., a three-time PRCA World Champion Steer Wrestler and son of another World Champ, John W. Jones, Sr. Both are members of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Pascoe remembers traveling to rodeos with both her parents, John and Sherrie, as a kid and soon found her own way to the competitive limelight, competing in junior, high school and eventually, college rodeos.
"I grew up around it so barrel racing was just a natural progression," says Pascoe. She began training her own horses while still a teenager and notes that her passion for barrel racing really began around the end of her time in high school rodeo.
"I like to rope too," notes Pascoe, "but I really love running barrels."
At a very early age, Pascoe also found the spotlight in the arena in another way . . . as a singer. As a child, she would perform the National Anthem at rodeos and even made it to the sport's biggest stage, the National Finals Rodeo.
The rodeo lifestyle would take a backseat in Pascoe's life after college however. After marrying Bear Pascoe, a fellow ranch kid, one from the central valley not too far from her own family's ranch, Pascoe embarked on a new adventure as the wife of a National Football League (NFL) player. With her husband playing for the New York Giants, Pascoe found herself living in New Jersey.
"We lived near a race track by the Meadowlands so I thought about bringing my horses out, but it was so cold back there," laughs Pascoe, who notes she opted out.
She and her family had begun a small breeding program, now another of her passions, and JR Naughty Jet was one of the first progeny of the program.
"We own the mare. It's just her and one other mare in our program," says Pascoe. Pascoe had Naughty started when she headed for the East Coast.
"He was four or five when we were living in New Jersey so I sent him with Lindsey McLeod," Pascoe notes. McLeod is the youngest of Wrangler NFR qualifier Michele McLeod's daughters. "She took him to a few five year old futurities in Texas."
With Bear's career moving him from New York, where he won a Super Bowl ring, to Atlanta, then Chicago, Pascoe found little time for her horses, just moments during trips home to California.
"I'm really lucky my mom is here," says Pascoe. "She is—and was always—really good about keeping my horses in shape so I could jump on and go to a jackpot when I was home."
Meanwhile, Pascoe wasn't in the arena competing as much but she did make an appearance at the Wrangler NFR again, singing "Empty Saddles," a tribute song to her grandfather on Memorial Night during the 2014 Wrangler NFR. The older Jones passed away in 2013.
Since Bear got released from Chicago, the couple is living in California again until he gets picked up with another team, leaving Pascoe time to indulge her passion for barrel racing.
"He's a really neat horse," she says of the now six year old son of Blazin Jetolena. "We've been doing the football thing so the last time I went to any pro rodeos was probably almost 10 years ago. I can't believe I'm that old!"
After claiming a huge victory in the average at the West Coast Barrel Racing Finals over Labor Day, Pascoe set off to a few circuit rodeos with hauling partners Brenda Mays and sister, Shannon Jones.
"Shannon just finished law school and passed the bar but she has a little time off before she starts her new job so we decided to all go together," explains Pascoe. "She ran Mom's horse and it was a fun weekend."
Adding to the fun traveling partners was Naughty's performance in the two rodeos the group hit, the Kern County Fair Rodeo in Bakersfield and the San Dimas Western Days Rodeo.
Running in the Friday night slack in Bakersfield, Pascoe stopped the clock in 17.66 seconds, just one one-hundredth ahead of Dolli Lautaret. Running less than 24 hours later in the Saturday afternoon perf at San Dimas, Pascoe and Naughty found their way to the top of the leaderboard again, posting a 17.62 that nipped hauling partner Mays by seven one-hundredths.
With the final runs tallied, Pascoe was left atop the standings at both rodeos, claiming the pair of victories worth $1,778.
"It was super special," she says. "We were really lucky to do that well. I set out just to go make positive runs."
Noting that it's "super hard" to make future plans with the uncertainty of where she and her husband will go next, Pascoe is settling for making the remaining California rodeos this fall.
"We'll go to a few and see how it goes,"
"I just feel so lucky with this horse. I think he's the best horse I've ever had."
For more information on the Kern County Fair Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.kerncountyfair.com. For more information on the San Dimas Western Days Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.sandimasrodeo.com.