Dolli Lautaret and Jolee Lautaret-Jordan are a dynamic mother-daughter team.
Full of laughs, hijinks and also some serious horsemanship skills, Dolli Lautaret and her daughter Jolee Lautaret-Jordan are a true barrel racing team. Whether they’re working horses at home or trucking down the road to the next rodeo to compete side by side, these women make a life out of working with the horses they love and feel lucky they can do it together.
It All Started with Dolli
Born in 1950, Dolli enjoyed riding in gymkhanas as a child. Her father was in the military, so she lived in many places. When her family moved to Europe, she got a chance to try something different.
“I studied dressage, jumping and three-day eventing,” Dolli said of her three years in Germany. “When we came back, I stayed with the hunter-jumpers for a while, and began showing Western as well.”
Dolli met her husband, Darrell, while they were in college. He rodeoed, so she started barrel racing—more so after they got married.
“It was something we could do together,” Dolli said. “I still rode jumping horses for quite a few years, but I gradually did more roping and barrel racing.”
She loved riding a big Appaloosa named Mighty Mite in eventing, dressage and horse shows. Darrell even tie down roped off “Fred” at horse shows and rodeos. The chestnut blanket gelding won multiple Appaloosa World Championship titles.
The Rise of Jolee
Jolee was born in 1975, when Dolli was 24. Always surrounded by her parents’ horses and often going to competitions together, Jolee was inducted into the horse world by default.
She was also involved in sports and other activities growing up. She played tennis, basketball, and was the editor of her high school yearbook. It wasn’t until Jolee spent two weeks on a 4-H exchange program that she realized how important horses were to her.
“It’s funny, because the horses were always there, so it’s like I had to go through withdrawal to realize how much I would miss them,” Jolee said. “Being away from them for two weeks made me realize I had taken it for granted that the horses were always there, so I was just so glad to have that opportunity and never really wanted to be away from it.”
Dolli remembers that 4-H trip as a turning point as well. Horses were inherent to their lives, but Jolee chose them for herself, with assistance as requested.
“We never forced her to ride,” Dolli said. “We supported her in whatever she wanted to do. If she wanted to ride, she could ride, and she was taught right. We always do things correct, and we always work hard. We had great fun together.”
Jolee began showing interest in going to high school rodeos her junior year, so the Lautarets supported her. Her senior year, she won second in the All-Around for the Arizona High School Rodeo Association—the winner was Sherry Cervi.
Jolee credits her mother for teaching her much of her horsemanship and training skills.
“Some people just can speak to the horses, and I learned a lot of that from watching my mom,” Jolee said. “I still learn a lot from her. She’s always helping me. I don’t think you can ever quit learning.”
The younger Lautaret graduated valedictorian and went on to attend college at Chapman University in southern California. While at college, Jolee first planned to work a food service job, but Dolli encouaged her to work with the horses in the summertime.
“I didn’t want her to ever feel she had to be at home with us and the horses,” Dolli said. “But we let her know that she had a job with us, if she wanted it, and she chose what she wanted to do.”
Peas in a Pod
In 1996, Jolee graduated summa cum laude with a degree in business communication and a minor in criminal justice. She returned home to Kingman, Arizona, and began roping and barrel racing with her mother.
“We went to a lot of Women’s Professional Rodeo Association rodeos and boy, that was just a blast,” Jolee said. “Those were really fun times; we met a lot of great people.”
One horse Dolli remembers fondly is the 1992 palomino gelding Frenchmans Twister (Frenchmans Guy x Whisperin Kitty x Bobby Seeker).
“We called him ‘Twinkie’ because he was a palomino with a bald face and blue eyes,” Dolli said. “He looked like a cream-filled sponge cake.”
Jolee has competed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times. One of those times, she won a go-round aboard Twinkie.
“I have probably won the most on Twinkie,” Dolli said. “I could run barrels, breakaway rope and calf rope on him.” Dolli recalls competing at a regional Colorado rodeo with Twinkie in barrels, winning the barrels and then immediately moved into mixed team roping.
“We just dropped the saddle right there at the gate, threw a roping saddle on him, and went in the mixed team roping with Jolee,” Dolli said. “He was so special and versatile.”
Dolli has earned many accomplishments in the WPRA, including a world championship in heeling, three reserve world champion All-Around Cowgirl titles, 19 Turquoise Circuit Finals qualifications and one championship, and she’s had three WPRA/American Quarter Horse Association Barrel Horse of the Year horses.
Jolee has earned more than $650,000 in barrel racing and roping. She’s been a circuit finals qualifier and champion multiple times, a WPRA reserve world champion and has won many pro rodeos, such as the Pendleton Round-Up and the California Rodeo in Salinas, California.
The Team Lautaret horses are a sense of pride for Dolli.
“I trained all our horses,” Dolli said. “It’s really rewarding to train them and see the progress in what your horses become.”
Dolli laughs and speaks fondly of her relationship with Jolee.
“We’re still mother-daughter, though that might have changed, getting older,” Dolli said. “She does all the driving. But we kind of look alike and think alike. We both have similar interests. We get along good, understand each other well and prefer traveling together.”
Part of this affinity is attributed to pursuing the same goals and sharing the same mindset about how to treat people and attend to their horses. But they’re not running in lockstep, says Dolli.
“She’s got her opinions, and I certainly have mine,” Dolli said. “She’s very organized and analyzes things after competition. I’m a little wilder and base my thoughts on the daily rides. But I taught her, trained her and we prefer the same type of riding. We prefer the same things out of our horses.”
That camaraderie is built on years of working together and most of all, mutual respect.
“We get along very well, we understand each other, and we like to be with each other,” Dolli said. “I love her and respect her probably more than anybody except my husband, who I respect very much. And she’s very much like her dad.”
Sometimes, running down the road together means some hijinks ensue—like the time Dolli and Jolee got delayed leaving a rodeo in Silver City, New Mexico, due to a power outage at the arena.
“The next day we were competing in Santa Maria, California—a pretty long drive away,” Dolli said. “We got a very late start and ended up in traffic in Los Angeles. It was so bad.”
Realizing they were going to be late for the next rodeo—the rodeo staff was calling them to learn their whereabouts—Dolli and Jolee had to make a plan.
“I was driving and looked over at Jolee and asked her ‘What do we need to have on to run?’” Dolli said. “We were wearing our PJ pants, and we had to have on long pants, boots, a long-sleeve shirt and a cowboy hat.”
The barrel race had long since started by the time they got there, fortunately just before their runs were scheduled. Dolli had on gray pajama bottoms, but Jolee’s were bright Scottish plaid and green—and baggy.
“We pulled in and threw overreach boots on the horses and jumped on,” Dolli recalled with glee. “We switched our shirts, pulled on a cowboy hat and our boots—I don’t think either one of us had on socks—and we stampeded the thing. Jolee won the race—pant legs riding up her thighs and all—I placed, and she ended up winning the whole two-header deal. One of the judges later said that was one of his great tales of the kinds of things the Lautaret girls do. That’s typical of us. We run late sometimes.”
Jolee says road trips with her mother are a great time, even while they’re serious about competing. Riding in Halloween costumes in grand entries alongside other similarly attired riders are some of her favorite memories.
“We laugh a lot, but we’re very competitive,” Jolee said. “We both want to win, we both want each other to succeed. But we find humor in a lot of the things that happen to us on the road. We spend a lot of time laughing at each other, teasing. My mom has always been a fun mom. We do crazy stuff and just make everything a good time.”
One can tell these two are in sync when it comes to their horses, even when things go a bit haywire.
“One time we were at a jackpot and I was getting ready to go in—they were calling my name and I realized I was on the wrong horse,” Dolli said. “I yelled to Jolee, ‘Wrong horse!’ and Jolee came over with the right one, I stepped off, got on the other horse and in the gate I go. Everyone marveled about that—I didn’t hold anybody up; I didn’t even have to think about it. You just go, and we have a lot of fun together.”
Friends for a Lifetime
In 2005, Dolli was diagnosed with mouth cancer. She immediately underwent extensive surgery and 33 radiation treatments. She continued to compete while in treatment and came out victorious, finishing her treatment in 2006. In 2007, Dolli won a WPRA world title in heeling.
“That was terrifying for us as a family, but her perseverance and attitude, no matter what happens to her, is inspiring,” Jolee said. “I’ve always tried to model after her a little bit in that way. To take that determination and never-quit attitude and to just make the best of everything, no matter what happens to you. Trying to keep going and living your life. And choosing to be happy.”
These days, Jolee does most of the driving to help out her mother when they hit the road. They don’t drive all night from rodeo to rodeo. And naturally, they don’t haul as much as they did 15 years ago—sticking to the rodeos they enjoy competing at, particularly in the summer months.
“We both want to win, we both want each other to succeed. But we find humor in a lot of the things that happen to us on the road. We spend a lot of time laughing at each other, teasing”.Jolee Lautaret-Jordan
“We still do pretty much everything together,” Jolee said. “Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve had to go on the road a bit more on my own than I ever used to, which is weird for me because we’ve always traveled together and I keep my horses at her place, so I’m there every day and we do a lot together.
“I always rely on her for advice and help,” Jolee continued. “She’s really excellent at training and tuning horses, getting them where they need to be so we can run them. She’s a huge asset to me.”
When she’s not barrel racing, Jolee is a part-time analyst with Steve Kenyon on Pro Rodeo Live, broadcasting from places like the NFR, RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo and the famed Pendleton Round-Up. For the last three years, she’s announced at Pendleton for the barrel racing and breakaway. She also works as a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association timer at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo every year.
“I love that I get to be a tiny little part of these two very historic rodeos,” Jolee said. “I’m a history junkie, so it’s a thrill for me.”
Jolee is also the associate editor for the Women’s Pro Rodeo News and occasionally writes for other publications, such as Barrel Horse News.
Jolee’s husband Allan Jordan, a former rodeo stock contractor, bull rider for 18 years and steer wrestler, is one of eight full-time pro officials for the PRCA, judging rodeos across the country, including the NFR.
“He’s a very big help to me in everything I do—he gives me great insight into the rodeo business since he grew up in it,” Jolee said. “He has a great competitive attitude, so he helps me with that, and I steal his knowledge all the time to help me with my stories and with my radio job, too.”
Jolee says she and her parents are very close, and Allan has been well integrated into the team.
“We’re a very tight family, and we always have been,” Jolee said. “And my husband got dragged into it too—he’s part of our little clique here.”
Dolli treasures the special bond she shares with her daugh- ter, one that not every mother and daughter are lucky enough to have.
“I feel fortunate Jolee and I have the relationship that we have, because many people don’t,” Dolli said. “Barrel racing isn’t who we are, it’s what we do. Who we are is way more important. I’m still a mom, she’s still a daughter, but she’s my best friend, and we love each other. We get along very well. That doesn’t mean we don’t have any arguments, but we try not to be hard on each other.”
Jolee agrees, cherishing the fact that her mother is more than just a coach or family member—she’s a best friend. “The relationship I have with my mom—it’s a mentor thing, but it’s also a friend thing—she’s one of my closest friends,” Jolee said. “I just respect and admire her so much.”
This article was originally published in the May 2019 edition of Barrel Horse News.