‘An all-around cowgirl’: North Platte woman balances time in ranch rodeos with welding and horse training
Contact Alesa Jones
For more info, contact Alesa Jones through her Facebook page, or via phone at (308) 520-1705.
Alesa Jones is an all-around cowgirl and a jack of all trades. When she isn’t spending time in the arena competing in women’s ranch rodeos and cowhorse versatility shows, she’s at home starting colts and welding her unique horse shoe furniture.
One of the most unique pieces of furniture in this cowgirl’s living room is a coffee table she built during welding class in high school.
“I needed a project, and with the help of my teacher,, we developed a plan to make a coffee table with a display case that was big enough to hold mementos, like the belt buckles I have won rodeoing,” she said. “I used some work horse shoes for the base, and I made the coffee table so it would open and I could put my buckles in there.”
The coffee table is special to her because each horse shoe has a story.
“I know the horse the shoe came off of, and I could tell you a story about each horse,” she said. “The shoes off of my very first horse are on that coffee table.”
When friends and acquaintances saw this first coffee table, it was the beginning of a new business for Jones. Since, she has made coffee tables, patio furniture, figurines, boot racks and coat racks. The items are promoted by word of mouth and through her facebook page, Alesa Jones horse training and boarding.
Since purchasing an acreage outside of North Platte, Jones has put her welding skills to work building new metal corrals and fences that will house her growing horse business.
“I have been training colts during the summer since high school,” Jones said. “But this new place has an indoor arena, so now I have room to work with anywhere from three to nine horses at a time.”
Most of her business is starting colts, her passion.
“I think it is neat to see the changes I can make in a colt during a 30-day period. I just thrive on that,” she said.
It is also a challenge. Two years ago, Jones participated in the South Dakota Horse Challenge, where she was assigned to start a nine-year-old horse that had never been handled.
“It was a challenge to get him to trust me and for me to trust him,” she said. “It is a lot different working with a big nine-year-old horse after working with smaller colts. I worked with him 120 days, and it was amazing to see what we had accomplished in that amount of time.”
Jones doesn’t stick to just one training method, but studies several and picks out the methods from each trainer that work for her.
“I use a combination of training methods,” she says. “With my groundwork, I want the horse’s attention on me, and I teach them to turn their hindquarters away from me, which requires the horse to look at me.”
She also sacks the colts out with a flag or something simple like a Walmart bag.
“I also like to use a long whip as an extension to my arm,” she said. “I want these horses to be used to foreign objects around their legs so if they get caught in the barbwire fence, they will just wait for help instead of fighting it and cutting themselves. Also, it is important for them to be calm when they are in a branding pen, so everyone is safe.”
Jones does groundwork on the colts, as well as work in the round pen.
“After I get on them a few times, I might go out and do miles down the road, and some arena work,” she said. “By the time they go home, I want them to know about soft feel, and be able to flex at the pole, give off pressure, bypass and pivot for a nice, slow spin. I want these colts to have a good handle on them before they leave after their 30 days are up. Many people fail to realize that a 30 day horse has a good start but is a long way from broke and will need lots more miles.
These days, she is starting to get horses that are more athletic and very well bred from some of the more reputable breeders. In addition, she also offers tuneups on horses that are used for 4-H, sorting, reining, barrels and other events. These tuneups can take from two weeks to 60 days, depending upon the horse. She also works with some horses that need finishing for events like reining and working cowhorse.
Jones puts her skills to work competing in women’s ranch rodeos, which started up in Nebraska about two years ago.
“My husband is really into ranch rodeos, so when someone couldn’t make it, I would fill in,” she said. “Then me and another gal decided to get involved in the women’s ranch rodeos, like they have down in Texas. The first year they started in Nebraska, our team qualified for nationals and was reserve world champion. Last year, we won reserve again, so this year we have set a goal to earn a world championship.”
About seven to 15 teams compete in the women’s ranch rodeos. There are five events, which includes trailer loading, steer mugging, pasture doctoring, branding and sorting. The winners are determined by who has the fastest time.
Jones uses a Docs Oak mare she trained herself for the event.
“I originally trained her to be a cutting horse, but I use her for cowhorse versatility shows and ranch rodeos,” she said. “She has won the top horse at several ranch rodeos, and she has been the reason I have won some top hand awards.
“I enjoy showing my horses, and if I don’t have something to do, I will go to ranch horse versatility competitions. In the future, I would like to get into cowboy dressage. It is popular on the West Coast, but it is moving this way. It will be a challenge because you need a horse that is very well broke to compete in it.” ❖