South Dakota cowboy sees special moments, heartbreak

Farm Forum

One of South Dakota’s oldest competitive athletes is still proving he is one the state’s best.

It was another summer full of pro rodeo titles for J.B. Lord of Sturgis, including the all-around title at the Dacotah Stampede in Aberdeen. Lord has been winning rodeo titles and awards for decades on the national, regional and South Dakota scene. He seems to be just getting better with age.

On Feb. 2, Lord wrestled his steer in 3.7 seconds to end up in a four-way tie for the title at the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo. The next day, he turned 53.

The adventures of Lord was one of my favorite stories to follow in 2013. I, too, am 53.

On Oct. 20, ages 16 to 53 won titles at the South Dakota Rodeo Association Finals Rodeo. Year-end champions included 16-year-old Shelby Vinson of Worthing in barrel racing and Lord in steer wrestling and all-around.

“You can’t live in the past. In this sport, nobody cares what you did yesterday. It’s what you do at the next one,” Lord told the American News earlier this summer. “There’s no substitute for experience. I would like to be younger and quicker and stronger, but I’m not. I have the experience and that’s the card I play.”

Lord, also a team roper, ended up 26th in the world in the all-around standings and he won the steer wrestling this year in the Badlands Circuit. “Age is more a mental thing,” Lord said. “If you think you can do it, you can, and for me it’s still a blast.”

He also has won his share of titles in Aberdeen over the years.

“I really enjoy that rodeo,” Lord told the American News before last summer’s event. “I’ve done good there in the past. It’s a good rodeo and I enjoy being there. It has a good crowd.”

This also was a year of heartbreak for Lord. During the massive early October snowstorm in West River, Lord told the Bismarck Tribune that his ranch near Piedmont got 36 inches of snow. Much worse, the family’s prized roping horse, Baywatch, died during the storm as did thousands of other animals across West River.

Baywatch was the 2012 Badlands Circuit Heading Horse of the Year. Lord said his son Eli won about $40,000 aboard Baywatch one year.

John Papendick is the managing news-sports editor of the American News: and @jpapendick on Twitter.