DUNCAN, Okla. – For years, Shy-Anne Jarrett stood in the background as the rodeo world shined its light on her husband, 2005 all-around world champion Ryan Jarrett.
The spotlight will beam brightly on the Comanche, Okla., cowgirl during the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15-Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.
For the second straight year, the former Shy-Anne Bowden has qualified for the regional finale, which features only the top 12 contestants in each event from cowboys, cowgirls and events primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
“I’ve rodeoed, but I never went that much,” she said, noting that she’s competed in barrel racing in ProRodeo for several years. “I’d just go to a handful of circuit rodeos. I’d get a little money won, and I’d usually take off with him. I wouldn’t go as much as I have the last two years.”
Ryan Jarrett has now qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo nine times, eight in tie-down roping. In 2005, he earned the trip to Las Vegas in both tie-down roping and steer wrestling, and he walked away from the Nevada desert with the most coveted prize in the game, the gold buckle awarded to the world champion all-around cowboy.
In fact, since 2002, he is the only man outside of 21-time champ Trevor Brazile to have earned that championship – Brazile owns 12 all-around titles, five in steer roping, three in tie-down roping and one in heading.
But Ryan failed to qualify for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2015, so all eyes will be on the local girl. Shy-Anne, the daughter of Billy Bob and Sandy Bowden, grew up in a rodeo family. Dad roped calves and has trained tie-down roping horses for years, while mom was a professional barrel racer, much like her daughter.
“She actually missed the finals in the late ’70s,” said Shy-Anne, who was raised in and still lives in Comanche, just eight miles from the Stephens County Arena. “After she had me, she trained futurity horses.
“Rodeo is just a way of life.”
That’s still the case. Shy-Anne has been riding horses since she was a toddler and began competing at about 5 years of age. It engrained a passion a deep passion for the sport, and she’s competed in most female-based disciplines over her lifetime.
“I did them all in high school,” she said of barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping and goat tying. “I really do like to breakaway rope. I don’t do very much of it anymore, but it’s right up there on the list.”
Her focus these days is in barrel racing, primarily because the financial opportunities in rodeo are greater in that event than in the roping. Of course, it helps to have a solid partner, and she does in Cuatro Snow, an 11-year-old bay/brown gelding she calls Cuatro.
“I got him when he was 5 years old,” Shy-Anne said. “He had been on the track a little but not in any races. He’d been worked out. I’ve done all the legwork myself; I started him completely. When I got him, he was track broke, but he was not the brokest thing. I spent a lot of time getting that done.
“I knew right away when I started him on the barrels that he had enough potential.”
She seasoned Cuatro, meaning exposing him to all the things that can happen in barrel racing and rodeo. From crowds to added noise to traveling, it’s all part of conditioning the animal to perform at its best. Now she will enter the circuit finals as the eighth-ranked cowgirl in the standings.
“I always knew he had the talent to do it, so I stuck with him,” she said. “The last three years has been fun.
“Going a little more is my goal for next year. The past two summers, I’ve gone to my circuit rodeos. Next year, I’d like to go a little bit more.”
Even though Ryan won’t be in the competition in Duncan, he will be around to lend a hand and plenty of support. The two have been together since the fall of 2005, just a few months prior to his most celebrated moment, and married in December 2010.
“I was there at his first NFR and his first gold buckle,” Shy-Anne said.
Ryan not only returns to the NFR this December, but he also has qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, which will take place in November in Edmonton, Alberta. That means through the 2015 campaign, the couple spent more time apart than they had in years as she worked to make her way into the circuit finale.
“It’s hard, because you put your normal wife things, the normal activities, on hold a little bit,” she said. “I think we make it work because we have good communication, and we help each other even though we’re not right there together.”
The good news is they’ll be together in mid-October while competing close to home.
“It’s really neat being this close to home,” Shy-Anne said. “That’s another reason I wanted to pursue making the circuit finals the last couple of years. It’s a good place to have it. I know the Prairie Circuit has struggled to have a place to call it home. To me, that makes a difference when you’re trying to qualify for the circuit finals.
“You want to have a good rodeo and a good committee to work with.”
She may be a little biased, but that’s OK. Both Billy Bob and Sandy Bowden are instrumental in planning the annual championship in Duncan. But as a cowgirl that competes for a living, there’s much more that goes into her quest for rodeo titles.
“I rodeo because I love it,” she said. “I don’t think I ever could’ve been one who sat in a cubicle from 9 to 5. I have to have a challenge. I crave the work. It’s living on the edge, from one day to the next. That’s the way with rodeo and with training horses.”
It’s also the heart and soul of a champion.