Jordan Jo Fabrizio makes history at the 123rd Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, becoming the first Cheyenne Frontier Days Breakaway Champion.
Barrel Horse News: Congratulations! What a win, how are you feeling?
Jordan Jo Fabrizio: “I feel blessed, overwhelmed, excited and so many different things. I was pretty lucky, I drew pretty good, I had a good horse and it all went my way that week. I was glad to have it.
“It was the utmost exciting thing I’ve ever accomplished in my life—the most exciting thing I’ve ever gotten to be a part of, and it was overwhelming. I don’t know if there will ever be a more exciting victory in my career. I hope one day we get to rope at the Thomas and Mack and do all those things, but Cheyenne will first and foremost always have a place in my heart.”
BHN: Why do you think the addition of breakaway at Cheyenne was important for the industry?
Fabrizio: “First, I think the numbers are there. Almost every big event there’s more than 100 girls entered, from the Open to 19-and-Under, even the 13-and-Under. I think the crowd really likes it, it’s easy to follow, it’s exciting, it’s another event for girls and I think the crowd really likes to see women compete. I think there’s a [stereotype] that [rodeo] is just a man’s sport. [Breakaway roping] is another thing little girls can look up to an aspire to be a cowgirl.”
BHN: Tell us about the format and what led up to the final round.
Fabrizio: “There were 242 girls and they broke us up into two heats, so there were 121 girls in each heat and I was in the second one. We had to stand a 20-foot score. The chute is real quiet and there’s not much going on in the slack, so I wasn’t anxious. I went out there, drew a good calf and I won second in my heat, so I advanced. They took the top 20 out of each heat. I came back in the last performances, which were Friday and Saturday. Friday I won the round and then Saturday I was third. They took the top money winners over two days from the performances, so afte winning the first round—it took about $1,800 in all the other heats [to advance]—I had an idea that I would hopefully get to rope Sunday.
“Sunday was a clean-slate finals, and they took 16 girls. One of the coolest things we did Sunday was all 16 of us got on the track and took a picture, and it hit me that we just made history and set the tone for girls to come and little girls to grow up and rope. That set the tone for the day. I think everyone was excited getting ready.
“They took us back based on money won, so I was toward the bottom and the first three or four girls came out and were [in the 4-second time range]. I thought ‘Man, this is going to be a roping today.’
“That was really almost good for me, because [I knew I had] to step up and do my best. Especially in that setup, you never know if it’s going to be hard or if it’s going to fall apart—and it didn’t. I drew a good one [in the final round]. I knew he came out there and went to the right, and when he did I let it go and got him. I was mainly relieved I made the run I usually make, and for me, did the best I could. Just getting to rope with the 16 girls who were there, girls who rope amazing, and being in their presence makes everyone step up that much more. And that we got to rope together—it was a great experience.”
BHN: What emotions were you having when you walked onto that stage after you won?
Fabrizio: “[After the breakaway was over and I was sitting in the back] they said ‘Get on your horse you won it!’ I just couldn’t believe it and then I got on my horse and I started crying. The whole victory lap around the arena I was bawling like a small child. When I got up on stage I was like ‘OK, you’re going to have to talk, snap out of it!’
“It was the utmost exciting thing I’ve ever accomplished in my life, the most exciting thing I’ve ever gotten to be a part of and it was just overwhelming that I feel like we finally – not just speaking about myself, but I’ve seen a lot of other girls that all the blood, sweat and tears that we’ve put into this trying to have good events and get to rope and rope for a lot of money – I feel like we finally got our foot in the door and it all kind of hit me at one moment and it was really fun. It was just so surreal and I will cherish that moment forever. I don’t know that there will ever be a more exciting victory in my career.”
BHN: Tell me about the horse you rode?
Fabrizio: “His name is “Bingo,” he’s owned by Melissa and Billy Morrow from Abeline, Texas. They are good family friends of ours and I’ve been riding him for about two years now. They let me take him there so they were excited. I just get to ride him. He’s an amazing equine partner, he has a lot of run, he scores really good and he has a lot of stop and he fits my style pretty well.
“Especially in Cheyenne, just because it’s such a luck of the draw there, you have to score them so far – so I think a horse made a big difference. Having a horse that could run, [score well and stop was an advantage to have]. He made my job pretty easy.
“His registered name is CD Bing, who’s by CD Olena, who’s by Doc O’Lena, and out of Bingo Legacy, who’s by the Doc’s Hickory son, Bingo Hickory. He’s an 11-year-old gelding.”
“My horse that I had [prior to riding Bingo], she was a Dr Nick Bar actually, and two years ago she tore a suspensory. We had had been riding Bingo for Billy just kind of roping on him a little bit to get him out there and he told me I could take him and I just never brought him back. I’ve just been grateful for the opportunity, because if not I wouldn’t have been there.”
BHN: What kind of practice and preparation did you do, especially to handle that 20-foot score?
Fabrizio: “Mainly I just tried to work on my horsemanship. I think there’s a big part of that, especially at Cheyenne as far as the score is and as far out in front of you the calves get and as fast as you are going. I worked on keeping my horse under control and riding him to the right position and then mainly just keeping my tip down and roping them. A lot of things can happen when you’re closing the gap that fast, so just focusing on being as sharp as I could with my horse and keeping him under control and getting to the right spot so that I could have the best shot possible.”
BHN: How did the start change for you from Slack to the Finals round?
Fabrizio: “In the slack you had to see about 4-5 feet of day light [between the calve and the chute] and then in the performances that would have been the fifth and sixth run on them, so [you went when you saw] about the hip of the calf at the end of the gate.
“It was hard, because nobody was in the chute [to push the calf out] so some of the calves would start at the front of the chute and some of them would start at the back and if they started at the back it was almost like they got a running start on you. So that was even harder in the fact that they were already getting a head start so then you were way behind.
“Mainly the first round, you could miss the barrier a little bit and it wasn’t that big of a deal, but in the progressive rounds if you missed it too much they dang sure beat you out and then it was harder to get them wrangled up down there [at the end of the arena]. Every time at the end of the arena I would try to look back and watch somebody and I had to watch the big screen, because I couldn’t even see them!
“So, the start changed a little bit, but it went from about half way out past the end of the gate to about flank and hip. You definitely had to draw good. I think that was a big part of it for everybody.”
BHN: Where do you go from here?
Fabrizio: “I go to the Spicer Gripp this week, I put on that breakaway – I’m part of that committee, so we have that and then I’ll go probably back down to Fort Worth for a couple of weeks and hit a couple of amateur rodeos and try to make the United Professional Rodeo Association finals and then I think I’m going to come back [to the Northwest].
“It’s exciting they put breakaway in a lot of the professional rodeos this fall and I’m an assistant coach at West Texas A&M, so I won’t get to go this fall, but I do think I’m going to go to Rapid City. They put it in their pro rodeo up there, so we’re going to go up there and then school starts for the fall.
“One of the things about Cheyenne and I’m grateful for the committee sticking their necks out for us and giving us a chance, because I think they’ll probably be the foundation for the first rodeo that let us in and I think a lot of other rodeo committees will see the production and how well it ran and hopefully they’ll take it on too. Hopefully next year we’ll get to rodeo a little bit with the barrel racers and try to go that route. Hopefully one day it will be in the Thomas and Mack.”
BHN: Tell me about yourself. How long have you been roping, where are you from and what is your background?
Fabrizio: I’m originally from Pueblo, Colorado. I’ve been riding since I could walk probably and I’ve been roping since I was about 4. I used to team rope a bunch. When I came to college I mainly team roped, I went to a lot of United States Team Roping Championships team ropings and stuff like that and I breakaway roped some, but team roping was my priority. Then I got to school and I went to West Texas A&M, I got my degree in marketing and then I went ahead and got my MBA. So, I college rodeoed for five years and I did not make the college finals. I missed it two years by one or two.
“That honestly is probably why I am where I am today, because it really lit a fire under me, it made me mad really. I was said I’m going to figure this out one way or another. I devoted pretty much all of my time to breakaway and I sold my team roping horse and I really started focusing on it and I had to change a lot of things and it’s been a really long road, but it’s something I guess that every competitor understands, people see you and OK yeah, I won Cheyenne, but they don’t see all the blood, sweat and tears for years that go into it. So for me knowing where I came from and where I started and where I am now and hopefully I continue to grow and get better, that’s exciting for me to know that it actually pays off. Dedication and hard work when you don’t have the natural ability, it pays off. So that’s exciting for me.
“I also, I have my own marketing business. It’s called Fabrizio Marketing, and I do websites, social media, any type of business marketing – logos and stuff like that. I’m also the assistant rodeo coach at West Texas A&M University. Hopefully one day I would love to say that breakaway roping is my full-time career, but for right now those two keep me afloat and keep me going. This fall will be five years that I’ve been with West Texas A&M. Raymond Hollabaugh is the head coach and he’s been the master behind my success in a lot of it, I have to give all the credit to him as far as roping, because he’s taught me everything about breakaway that I know.
“My mom and dad team roped and my mom breakaway roped and goat tied, so [my sister and I] didn’t really have a choice, we got stuck in there and we just ended up liking it. My sister team ropes and breakaway ropes. When we went on vacation it was to a rodeo. You look back and it’s exciting. The people you’ve met and the places you’ve been. I feel like I’ve traveled the world, or at least the West Coast. Rodeo is something you can never replace. You meet and make family all over the world and you know so many people and that’s exciting I think, because you get to meet new people and see new places every day. Getting to do that with you’re family – my sister made the short round at Cheyenne as well, so my mom was there and my dad was watching on TV, so getting to experience that with them was pretty exciting. My sister didn’t have any luck, but I told her you made history, you were one of the 16 girls that got to rope today. It’s something you’ll never be able to say again. It was neat.”
BHN: What do you consider to be your keys to success in your career?
Fabrizio: I would say my life has a big God story behind it, so I wouldn’t be where I am without Jesus and he keeps me pretty centered. That and the people that have helped me and I’ve got some great family and friends I’ve made along the way. It’s everyone that’s surrounded me and loved me and keeps inspiring me to go on. I hope one day I make a difference in someone’s life so that keeps me moving forward everyday.”