ProFile: Randy Ternan

by Lily Landreth

In the last four and a half years, rodeo judge Randy Ternan has worked 135 rodeos in six associations. He’s currently the GCPRA Judging Director and a director in the AHSRA, while working the 2017 NLBRA finals marked the 30th finals rodeo he’s judged.
Before the 57-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona, became a rodeo judge, he competed on both ends of the arena, starting with 4 years of steer riding, followed by 12 years of bull riding and 14 years of steer wrestling. He grew up in Alberta, Canada, in a town of 800 people, where rodeo was the entertainment. “A kid said I should enter the cow riding, and I had no spurs, no hat, and no glove, but some bareback riders cut their spur straps down so I had spurs and someone put a hat on my head,” Randy recalls. “That was in 1970, and I shouldn’t have rode the first one, because I’ve had the fever ever since.” He later switched to steer wrestling, and Randy college rodeoed for a year and even competed in Australia for three months. He worked full time at a fertilizer plant and rodeoed on weekends. While he was jumping a steer in 2000, the steer’s horn went through the side of his mouth and into the bottom of his eye socket. He was in a coma for a week and needed two brain surgeries. “But if you take the good out of the bad, because of that accident, they also found out I had a double brain aneurism,” says Randy. He made a full recovery and backed into the box for several more years until he broke his leg. Three plates and 22 screws later, Randy felt it was time to retire, but he wanted to stay involved through judging.
“The first time I judged, I was just supposed to do steer wrestling and barrel racing, and just before the rodeo, the judge decided I should flag the team roping in an 80-by-140-foot indoor arena,” says Randy. “Because I’d been on both ends of the arena, I was a watcher, even when I wasn’t competing. The first year I judged in Alberta, I got voted to do a finals, and it just progressed from there. I started judging the Grand Canyon rodeos 10 years ago. The association is great — everything is volunteer and they work at promoting their association, and they’ve done a real good job at the finals. I judged their finals the last nine years.” Randy also judges youth, high school, college, PRCA, and Indian rodeos and enjoys the opportunity to travel. “After judging all over the country, I think Arizona is quite lucky to have the core of judges they do. The judges we have here are very good and everybody is conscientious. You have to have thick skin as a judge and know the rule book — and have fun doing it. When contestants thank you for coming, that’s your payback. You don’t need to be a policeman, you just need to know the rules and treat people fairly.”
Randy also used to work for a toy company, and he built the prototypes for the first rodeo action figures to come onto the market, called Rodeo Champions. Randy had a licensed agreement to do action figures for all the events, and he completed a bull rider and a barrel racer before funding for the project was canceled. Today, he judges part time and manages several rental properties, while his wife, Laurie, works for an engineering company, flying 150,000 miles a year for work. She shows halter and English, and they raise several barrel horses a year. “We have a PC Frenchmans Hayday mare bred to Slick By Design, so that should be an interesting baby next year,” says Randy. He’s taken up team roping as a header in the last year and turned 50 steers so far. “I have a horse like a golden retriever — he’ll take care of me, and I want to keep my fingers! Even though you flag it for 17 years, there’s things you don’t watch for as a line judge. There’s lots to learn,” Randy finishes, “and I think I will enjoy it.”

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