Our January Spotlight is a person who possesses just about every quality needed to be successful in life, marriage and business. Jessie Clark-Telford is the talented wife of professional trainer Jake Telford, who recently added NRCHA Open Futurity Champion to his long list of winnings training and showing the filly, Starlight Kisses, owned by Holy Cow Performance Horses. But "Jake Telford's wife" isn't the only title Jessie goes by, this talented horsewoman is known for her own accomplishments as well in the horse event arena.
Born in Riley, Oregon (Riley is in the middle of nowhere in eastern Oregon, and I do mean NO WHERE!) Starting her life in a ranching family it's only natural she'd be horseback before she could talk. Her parents, Dave and Patty Clark, moved the family, which included brother Tom, to Terrebonne, Oregon in 1990 when Jessie was 10 years old.
Jake, Sierra, Shawna and Jessie
The Telford Family
NRCHA Photo by Primo
By Susie Flenniken
Jake after winning the NRCHA Open Championship with Starlight Kisses
The Clark kids showed cattle in 4-H but just like most ranch raised kids, rodeo events soon took over. For Jessie and Tom, it was a natural progression as they were born into a rodeo family. Her grandfather is the late PRCA Hall of Fame Member rodeo clown, Gene Clark. Her dad, Dave Clark, is a successful team roper and steer roper. He had the kids in the roping pen most every day after school. Jessie remembers entering her first pee wee rodeo in Redmond, Oregon, running a retired race horse turned ranch horse they'd brought along in the move from Riley to Terrebonne. Competing in poles, goat tying and barrel racing, and had they had breakaway back then she would have been winning that as well. When the breakaway roping event was added, Jessie wasted no time in entering. Her mom traveled many miles hauling 14 year old Jessie, all over Oregon to compete in the barrels and fill her PRCA permit. (Author's note; I remember watching Jessie, in her perfect outfit with fringe, competing in Pee Wee rodeos on Roanie. Fallon Taylor had nothing on her in the flashy department! Jessie was always decked out.) Jessie would continue to compete through high school rodeos, College rodeos and PRCA events.
As luck would have it, fate brought two horse trainers together. Through mutual friends Jessie would meet her soon to be husband, Jake Telford, who was living in Idaho. A respected reined cow horse trainer, team roper and all around horseman. They made their home in Idaho and now have two beautiful daughters, Shawny who is 10 years old and Sierra, 9 years old. Both girls love to ride and compete in junior rodeos, with barrel and poles being their favorite events, but it was in breakaway roping that Shawny would win the year end title in 2015.
So, to say that Jessie is traveling the rodeo, cow horse, barrel horse road a lot is an understatement. The family, when traveling together, will haul an 8 horse trailer and to many events, an additional 5 horse trailer. They don't stop there, when hauling the girls to their junior rodeos Jessie will pull the 4 horse, living quarters trailer. Most of the events Jake and Jessie compete in can last as long as ten days and Jessie says she's become a fan of the house rental website, VRBO.com and rightly so.
How does a born and raised barrel racing, breakaway roping ranch cowgirl mesh her training methods with a reined cow horse and all around outstanding horseman and trainer? Some would think they'd be training their prospects in separate arenas with totally different methods. But as any good horseman/woman knows, the two events lend themselves perfectly to each other's methods, and it takes a real horseman/woman to train champions in all these events. The Telfords own Telford Training. Besides Jake's successful business training world champions, Jessie is busy choosing her barrel prospects and throwing in a reined cow horse competition here and there, NOT an easy task. She's been able to keep their daughter's in good barrel horses thanks to her ability to choose and train their own prospects.
When asked if Jake's training methods had an impact on how she trains her barrel futurity horses, she states that their horsemanship has grown tremendously over the past 11 years. Applying Jake's knowledge of getting every part of a horse broke, from the poll to the hips, then applying these fundamentals she's able to use her own knowledge and experience of choosing a prospect with the needed speed to come up with barrel prospects that have the chance to be the talented barrel horse which can be hard to make in this age of fast times and solid horses that will last. Especially since Jessie runs her horses in futurities, "being able to start with a broke horse, then add the barrels and eventually adding speed, problems will always arise. But if my horse is broke and knows what I'm asking of them, the problems are easily fixed with very little mental stress on my colts. That would be the biggest benefit my husband has helped me attain." And attain she has, winning and placing in top barrel futurities across the country.
Jessie continues by adding she likes all disciplines in the performance horse world. She states that the breeding has come so far, there will always be the random, off bred horse that comes in and kicks your butt. But she likes to minimize the risk by starting with something that is bred to do it. With the crazy, busy lifestyle she has, the luxury of time isn't there, she needs to know that every hour she spends on her horses is going to be beneficial in the long run. That means starting her horses as colts that are bred to be barrel horses and then spending 12 months getting broke them before they are even started on barrels. This also makes for a well-bred, well trained barrel prospect ready for the sale pen or futurity event.
I asked Jessie how in the world does she manage all of her family's events and travel as well as her own events. She said she's become shockingly good at time organization (without the use of Pinterest!), planning ahead, and has great parents that pitch in as grandparents when needed. I can attest to the fact her parents are the most supportive, fun parents a daughter could have.
In the true spirit of a successful competitor giving praise for their success to those they love, Jessie states that without her parents and grandparents' deep rodeo roots and her husband, Jake's, talent and work ethic, her barrel career wouldn't be anything. "I owe so much of the success to my family," she says, and to her daughters inspiring Jessie to keep them in great horses, because the joy she feels in her heart when she get's to see them ride "my good horse" is, as she says, "that ultimate win."
The Telford family is a unique combination of loving what they do, working hard at it, and teaching their daughters that hard work and understanding the time it takes to train a good horse and to be able to compete is all worth it. Add the fact that their two daughters witness their parents' work ethic and talent, they'll no doubt grow up with a continuing passion for horses. It's obvious the entire family love the sport and love the horses they train. Cheering each other on only adds to the intense love of the sport. It's a joy to watch the girl's videos with dad, Jake rooting them on as their mom is down in the arena helping them. Another generation of ranch raised children learning by example. The hours spent going down the highway has definitely paid off for the Telfords and CowboysHighway wishes them continued success and safe travels!