Jessie Telford

James Fain

By Amy Wilson

Vernal, UT — She grew up on a cattle ranch in Oregon, and was only 13 years old when she first got her WPRA card; but Jessie Telford, 36, put her ProRodeo ambitions on hold once she got married and had two girls. Now her girls, Shawny (11) and Sierra (10), love to compete themselves, so Telford is back to competing in WPRA Barrel Racing.

“Besides the fact that I got super lucky with the horse I have, my kids are old enough that I feel like I am not letting the ball drop by going to some rodeos now. And not that my husband or anyone ever said I couldn’t, it was just that I didn’t feel like I could go and give it 100-percent when my kids were little,” she explained.

That lucky horse happens to be one of many she has trained and ran at futurities. Famous Cool Whip is the 5 year old gelding Telford raised. He is out of a mare that she competed on in high school, college, and circuit rodeos; and he is by Dash Ta Fame. Last year, during his 4 year old futurity year, Cool Whip won over $30,000, but, he wasn’t consistent.

“One run would be phenomenal and then the next would not,” Telford recalls.

Although she was planning to rodeo on Cool Whip and her other futurity horse, Telford had to make some changes after she ended up selling Playgun Fame in January. She also knew she needed to take the time to make Cool Whip more solid.

Telford happens to be married to professional trainer and the 2015 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion, Jake Telford. “He’s helped my training program immensely,” she said in appreciation of learning Jake’s techniques on how to get every part of a horse broke and soft. “It’s made it so much easier when you start adding speed to those horses and you have a problem here or there, how easy it is to fix the problem when you have a foundation.”

Jake also ropes which is how they met at a rodeo after Jessie had moved to Boise, Idaho to attend college at BSU. They now own and operate Telford Training, located in Caldwell, Idaho.

“Jake always has between 25 and 30 outside horses here, so we train all day, every day unless he’s gone at a show,” Jessie said. They also have two assistant trainers who put the first 60 days on all the two year olds.

Jake competes in five major events a year. One is the NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman which was being held at the same time in Fort Worth as RFD-TV’s The American semi-finals where Jessie was running barrels on Cool Whip. “We have an 8 horse trailer and he had 7 head over there, and then I got to throw my one barrel horse in. So everywhere I went across town in my 8 horse trailer and unloaded my one horse, I felt like the epitome of a Corban Livingston joke,” she said laughing.

What’s not a joke is the recent success Telford and Cool Whip have had. “I think I’ve been to like 10 rodeos, and he’s placed or won every one of them except for the three that I hit a barrel at,” Telford said. They won the Days of the Old West Rodeo in Delta, Utah; Desertview Pro Rodeo in Castle Dale, Utah; Meridian Lions Rodeo in Meridian, Idaho; and the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo in Vernal, Utah. Vernal is the biggest ProRodeo win of her career. Telford earned $3,717 for her winning time of 17.20 seconds. Telford and Cool Whip also placed second at Fort Herriman PRCA Rodeo in Herriman, Utah and third at the Oakley Independence Day Rodeo in Oakley City, Utah.

Jessie gives credit to Jake for how he’s improved her mental game, which helps her horse too. “From the gate entrance, to how far the barrels are off the fence, to how long a run it is to my first – I just plan so much more as I think about the setup and the scenario, and then how I’m going to change my riding to most benefit my horse.” And Cool Whip’s confidence in her makes a difference too. “He has the most willing attitude. Nothing is a big deal to him. He just really trusts, and he is so kind.”

As Telford continued to compliment the pretty sorrel, she mentioned the speed he has, “He’s a big horse. He’s almost 17 hands. He has a huge stride so you start getting out in these open pens that are standard pattern, he can go a little bit by a barrel and he’ll still clock.”

Telford loves competing in the Wilderness Circuit because, “It has the most phenomenal ground and committees for barrel racing. I think it’s the only circuit out there that you’ll see a handful of rodeos that are won with 16 second runs on a standard pattern.” Telford believes the Wilderness Circuit is the most conducive for a futurity horse to turn into a rodeo horse. “To me, the worst thing you can do is to just kick them out there and run them on a bunch of crappy ground that they’re so unaccustomed to. I love the Wilderness Circuit for that fact. You can easily take a futurity colt to these rodeos and the only difference is the crowd and noise.”

It’s no surprise that Telford has a love for rodeo. Her grandpa is ProRodeo Hall of Famer Gene Clark. “He fought bulls at the first 5 NFR’s,” she noted. Her dad, Dave Clark, was a bull rider when he was younger, but now he team ropes and steer ropes. Jessie’s brother, Tom Clark, was also a bull rider, but now he ropes and is dating WPRA Barrel Racer Sabra O’Quinn.

Telford is currently on her way to Brazil to help Jake with his clinic there, and then they’ll do a little vacationing for a couple days before it’s back to rodeo. “I fly back Thursday, and I got up Thursday night at Nampa (Idaho) so that’s going to be a little stressful,” Telford said with a laugh. She would like to finish this year in the top 50 of the WPRA World Standings to help her qualify for the big winter rodeos next year. And Telford is not far from that now – she’s currently sitting 56th with $13,421 won.