J. Tom Fisher is a West Texas cowboy who travels to Fort Worth each Memorial Day Weekend to attend the Windy Ryon Memorial Roping.
His father, Dan, is an accomplished steer roper on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit and has entered the Ryon Roping for many years.
“I’ve never missed this roping my whole life,” Fisher said. “I’m 30 and this is my 30th year to come to it. I grew up coming to this every Memorial Day and I’ve never done anything else.”
With that in mind, Fisher, who is from Andrews, relished winning the Invitational Steer Roping title on Sunday night as the 42nd Ryon Roping concluded its three-day run at the North Texas High School Rodeo Association Arena.
Fisher, who qualified for the PRCA’s National Finals Steer Roping in 2010 and 2013, clinched the title after finishing with a four-run aggregate time of 57.53 seconds. He earned $5,800.
Luke Bland finished second with a 60.27 and pocketed $4,350. J.P. Wickett came in third with a 64.64 and earned $2,250. Corey Ross, who served as the preacher for the Ryon Roping Cowboy Church service earlier in the day, wound up fourth and earned $1,925.
Fisher said he thrived on roping in a smaller arena. Organizers opted to not conduct the show in the large, outdoor Ryon Arena because its floor was too muddy from the abundance of rainfall. Instead, the 2015 Ryon Roping was conducted in the neighboring NTHSRA Arena, which is has a covered arena floor and grandstands..
In a smaller arena, the times usually are faster.
“The faster the times, usually the more that I win,” Fisher said. “I’m the type of person who generally goes for first every time.”
However, Fisher did not have make an overly fast final-round run to win. He was advised by longtime Ryon Roping announcer Curt Robinson that he needed to be under 20 seconds to clinch the title as he prepared to rope his last steer.
As it turned out, Fisher thrived on having some cushion because he missed “the trip” on his last steer, which meant he initially missed throwing his slack around the back of the animal after making the head catch.
Fisher had to reposition himself in order throw the slack in his rope around the back of the steer so his horse could rapidly move away, pull the rope tight to trip the steer so it would fall to the ground.
“When I roped him, the steer kind of slowed up and I went by him without a trip, so I had to circle him around and trip him,” Fisher said. “It was an unconventional way to win the roping.”
Fisher clinched the title after turning in a final-round time of 18.10. He had entered the finals with the lead after turning in times of 11.59, 12.51 and 15.33 during the prelims.
After clinching the title, Fisher said winning the Ryon Roping means a lot.
“It’s always been my favorite roping,” he said. “There’s four or five great steer ropings, but this has always been my favorite. The [Ryon] committee is great and they always like having us here. It just kicks off the summer for me.”