Back When They Bucked with Jerry Beagley

by Gail Woerner

Jerry Beagley has enjoyed a Western way of living from the time he was born. He was born in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, October 2, 1954 to Otto and Evelyn Beagley. He was an only child. His dad was foreman for the Chain Ranch, located in Kansas and Oklahoma. The Chain Ranch ran 2,500 mama cows. His dad always had good horses. In addition to his dad being foreman of the Kansas part of this major ranch he was also in demand as a pickup man at various area rodeos.
When Jerry was 4 years old his dad would put him on calves and run alongside holding him by his belt, so he wouldn’t fall off. Jerry was seven when his parents took him to the 1961 National Finals Rodeo in Dallas. As he watched the cowboys compete he asked his mother, “Do you think I will ever be good enough to compete at the National Finals?” She said, “Of course, son, you will be good enough.” Jerry said his mother never lied to him, so he always knew he could do it. The first big bull he rode was at a rodeo in Turley, Oklahoma at age 12.
As a youngster he competed in Little Britches Rodeos in goat tying, flag races and more. His sophomore year in high school at an FFA rodeo in Freedom, Oklahoma, they were using feisty wild Hereford cows. The stock contractor told Jerry’s dad Jerry couldn’t ride one of his cows. Jerry’s dad bet him Jerry could. Jerry knew his dad didn’t make a lot of money, and was concerned that if he didn’t ride the cow his dad would lose the bet, and his money. Jerry did ride the wild cow, even though he lost both of his boots during the ride. He made the whistle! He also was the Kansas High School Calf Roping Champion. In 1972 he was the Little Britches Bull Riding Champion and All-Around Champ.
“I had extremely positive parents” said Jerry. “ They told me I could do whatever I set out to do. They made me believe in myself. ” He was valedictorian of his Medicine Lodge Senior class.
He attended Fort Hayes (KS) State University and majored in Math. He was on the rodeo team and won the 1974 NIRA Bareback Riding Championship. He transferred to Southeast Oklahoma State University and at the College National Finals, in 1977, held at Bozeman, Montana, he won the Bull Riding Championship and the All-Around.
Sylvia Mahoney, author of “College Rodeo, From Show to Sport” wrote: “Jerry Beagley’s eighty-two-point ride on Black Satin in the final round led to the bull riding buckle and helped his team win the Men’s Team Championship.” That was the year he decided to start concentrating solely on bull riding.
Jerry got his Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA) permit in 1974 and his card the following year. Previously he had been making a living competing in amateur rodeos. Before he turned pro he had gone to approximately 120 amateur rodeos each year.
Jerry’s mother was right when she told him, at age seven, he would be good enough to go to the National Finals. He went to his first National Finals in 1978. He was the Reserve Champion in 1979, just after World Champion Donny Gay, in spite of the fact he was injured after the 2nd round at the Finals. He also qualified for the 1980 and 1982 National Finals.
Injuries are part of rodeo, some events are more injury-prone than others, and bull riding is one that definitely causes injuries.. Jerry was injured in 1979 when he broke his jaw and had to have stitches in his face due to his injury. The following year, 1980, he qualified again and this time the bull broke his ribs in the second round. He tried for two more rounds to compete but it wasn’t working. Jerry jokingly said, “Yes, I rode bulls — I rode bulls before they began tipping their horns.” This did not deter Jerry from continuing to ride bulls, but when he quit in 1986 he explained it this way, “I quit because I didn’t want to get bitter about something I liked so much. I loved riding bulls.”
Jerry held Bull Riding Schools in various Midwestern locales. It was going so well he taught bull riding as far west as Hawaii and Florida to the east. But that wasn’t enough for Jerry so he took his Bull Riding Schools to Canada, Australia and Brazil. Jerry said, “Lots of students that sign up will never become bull riders. I tried to teach them how to have the right mental attitude, how to win, how to get from rodeo to rodeo, and much more. I wanted them to leave my school having learned something more than just how to ride a bull for their $200.”
The era in which Jerry contested was when those serious contenders found ways to get to several rodeos during the same weekend by flying. He got his pilot’s license and flew in small planes to get to as many rodeos as he could. In 1978 he competed in 175 rodeos and 169 rodeos in 1979. He and Brian Claypool, another rodeo competing pilot, flew together a great deal. Claypool was in a plane that went down somewhere in mountains near the California-Oregon border, May 22rd, 1979. Brian and three other cowboys were killed. The wreckage was not found for months until a hunter found the remains in a remote area. Jerry explained, “If I hadn’t opted to stay home and put together an anniversary celebration for my parents, I would have been on that plane.”
Other cowboys Jerry traveled with were Jerome Robinson, Lane Frost, Ted Nuce, Lyle Sankey, Bobby DelVecchio and Steve Lance . Jerry traveled alone more than he did with other competitors. The work ethic his parents instilled in him early in life kept him on the road getting to as many rodeos as he could possibly get to. In fact, Butch Bratsky said: “They called Jerry ‘Milemarker’ because he got to more rodeos than most cowboys could or would get to.”
Jerry worked extremely hard to get the Justin Sports Medicine Program up and going because he believed it was important in the world of rodeo. He worked with Dr. J. Pat Evans, the doctor that was responsible for keeping Dallas Cowboys football players healthy for their games. Dr Evans started having medical people available at each rodeo to keep cowboys with minor injuries able to compete, and advising them medically if necessary.
The Christmas after Jerry turned 18 his dad gave him a hundred dollar bill. Jerry drove to Tulsa and bought as much nylon parachute cord as the money would buy. “I took it back to college and started braiding and creating reins in the dorm. They make great reins and presently I have quite a group of people braiding for me in their homes. It’s called cottage labor and individuals work making items at home, send it to the company and are compensated for their efforts.”
Jerry owns his own businesses, Jerry Beagley Braiding Company Inc. and Ott Ranch Saddles. He sells horse equipment wholesale, which includes over 400 items, for all kinds of horses – barrel racing horses, calf roping and more. He sells to over 200 stores in the United States. He also sells all over the world, including Canada, Australia, Switzerland and Brazil . Jerry met, at his bull riding school, the man who ended up providing through Jerry’s company the bull riding equipment for bull riders in Brazil. I don’t think it was more than a handshake, but it has been very successful for both of us.” said Jerry. He also met Adriano Moraes, from Brazil, who became the first Professional Bull Riding World Champion three times, 1994, 2001 & 2006. They have had a twenty-plus year friendship. In the early 2000s Jerry received the Small International Import-Export Company of the Year, in Oklahoma.
Martha Josey competed in barrel racing the same time Jerry was competing in bull riding and they became friends. Martha said, “Years ago at the Mesquite rodeo my hand slipped on the reins, when I was competing. When I finished I told Jerry and he created the ‘Martha Josey Knot Reins’ which have been selling for over 40 years. Jerry has such a good work ethic he could out-rodeo every one else. I can’t say anything that isn’t good about Jerry.”
Jerry married Beva Farnham, from Canada, and they had two children. Their daughter Martha who competed in rodeo in various events through college, presently she is a full-time mother to two children. Son, Brian, never was interested in the rodeo world, he found his passion in motorcycles and such. He lives in Canada and has two children.
The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Alumni Association was formed in 1982. Jerry became involved to be able to help students go further in their desired professions. He is a Board member and when U. S. Tobacco dropped their support for college students he became a strong supporter of the fund raising part of the organization making every effort to get more sponsors to provide scholarship monies. Sylvia Mahoney said about Jerry: “He is one of the silent people that is always working to discover new ways for the Alumni Association to raise funds to support the rodeo teams. He donated a saddle to be raffled off to raise funds for the project.”
Jerry is a self-made man who has accomplished many things in his lifetime. He has given back by his efforts to rodeo in numerous ways. He has helped many young people just starting their rodeo careers. He is revered by those who competed with him and worked with him. He is his own man – an individual, honest, determined and perseveres, while displaying humility. He admits he owes it all to his parents, friends and Jesus.

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