Roper Review: Justin Loya

by Teri Edwards

As a kid, Justin Loya had big dreams. Just not the NFR dreams most rodeo kids have. From the age of five, Justin craved baseball. Both parents, Sam and Marilyn, competed in rodeo and as a youngster Justin roped calves, winning the Tie Down title in New Mexico Junior Rodeo more than once.
He also played football, wrestled, and competed in other sports during school. But baseball was always his first passion and the thing he wanted to pursue to the highest level.
Consequently, as a high school freshman, Justin sold his horses to focus solely on baseball. This passion earned him a scholarship at Benedictine College in Kansas. As a senior, he was selected to play on Team USA and traveled to Australia where he ultimately threw his arm out. Corrective surgery soon followed, but Justin found he was not able to throw as he had before.
With the option of an academic scholarship at University of New Mexico, Justin decided to stay close to home and learn to team rope. After a year and a half of roping close to home, Justin was offered a rodeo scholarship at Frank Phillips College in Borger, Texas. There, he completed his Associates Degree before transferring to West Texas A&M the following year.
When Justin started roping at 19 years old, he was a #2. In 2006, he missed making the NIRA finals by just one spot. His college rodeo team went on to win the region and nationals. And by the time he was 22, he was rated a #8.
“I roped all day, every day. I set up my classes where I was done by noon,” explains Loya. “My roommate and I would visit three or four roping pens every day and rope until dark. My parents furnished me with nice horses and that helped quite a bit.”
Now, at 33, Justin works as a Senior Real Time Trader for PNM (Public Service Company of New Mexico). There he monitors and balances New Mexico’s energy load and generation. He also buys and sells energy as needed throughout the United States.
Additionally, Justin owns and operates Loya Performance Horses, in Los Lunas, New Mexico, where he trains and sells some nice horses. He is also teaching his seven-year old son, Payson, to rope on his retired rope horse.
How much do you practice?
About five days a week.
Do you make your own horses?
I’ve made some and bought some. Right now I’m making more than buying.
Who were your roping (rodeo) heroes growing up?
I didn’t really have any because I was playing baseball. At the time I was more of a calf roper and Brent Lewis was from New Mexico so I paid attention to him.
Who do you respect most in the world?
My father.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My parents always have been, now my son is a big influence.
If you had a day off what would you like to do?
Play golf.
Favorite movie?
Lonesome Dove.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Honest, driven, fun.
What makes you happy?
Knowing I’m setting a good example for my son.
What makes you angry?
When I don’t do well from lack of preparation.
If you were given 1 million dollars, how would you spend it?
I would invest in property and save the rest for my son’s education.
What is your worst quality – your best?
My best is striving for perfection. My worst is being overly competitive.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully I will be getting ready to take my son to college. Much of the next ten years will be about him and me roping when I can.

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