Rodeo runs in the blood

Hermiston's Jordan Minor looks towards the announcer's stand after accepting her $100 bonus and bottle of Chute 8 whiskey after recording the top barrel racing time in Thursday's performance of the Farm-City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston.

Hermiston native Jordan Minor won Farm-City’s barrel racing event on Thursday night, adding yet another accomplishment on her family’s rodeo legacy.

Minor, 29, comes from a long line of rodeo competitors. Her mother, Maureen Crossley, is also an experienced barrel racer, and her father, Shane, has competed in tie-down roping and team roping.

But it doesn’t end there. One of her younger sisters, Jade, 26, barrel races, and another, Callahan, 24, is competing in Canada this year, having qualified for the Canadian finals in the past. She also has cousins involved: Blake Knowles of Heppner is currently ranked at No. 4 in the Wrangler Pro Rodeo Tour standings in steer wrestling, and Mary Shae Hays regularly competes at Farm-City as a barrel racer.

“All my relatives do it,” said Minor, 29. “It’s all I’ve ever known.”

Minor now lives in Ellensburg, Wash., with her 14-month-old daughter Monroe and her husband Riley, who — you guessed it — also competes in the rodeo.

In fact, it was the rodeo that brought the two together in the first place. The couple met as freshmen in high school when they toured rodeos during their summers off.

“We went to every rodeo together,” she said.

They started dating when they were seniors in 2007 and married four years later. The rodeo lifestyle hasn’t slowed down for either of them, however. Riley, 30, stands at No. 8 in the world in team roping, in which he competes alongside his brother Brady. He has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals four times and has won rodeos in Marwayne, Alberta; Bakersfield, California; and Coulee City, Washington, this year alone.

The two spend much of their time apart, touring the country and riding in rodeos from coast to coast between June and September.

“We’re together in the winter and spring, but when the heat of the summer comes, we go our separate ways,” Minor said. “We both grew up around rodeos; we’re used to the different schedules.”

She’s raced in over 60 rodeos so far this year.

“You get tired of the long drives, but once you’re in the arena, it’s always exciting,” she said.

Minor is currently at No. 3 in the Columbia River Circuit. Thursday, she finished off a nail-biting race on top, edging out Cheyenne Allan of Mabton, Washington, and Teri Bangart of Olympia, who hold the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively.

She clocked in at 17.19 seconds, besting Allan’s time by just .03 seconds and staking her claim over her home turf. But for Minor, it’s important to keep a level head and stay focused on what’s to come.

“I don’t pay much attention to the standings,” she said. “They change every day, and it’s a tough circuit. I like to take it one rodeo at a time.”

Her mother, grandmother, aunt, and sister Jade were all in attendance for her big hometown victory. After the race, her mother helped her groom her 8-year-old horse, preparing it for their next competition, which is six hours away in Missoula, Montana.

“My parents taught me everything I know, and they still teach me new things every day,” Minor said. “My mom records every run we make so we can learn from our mistakes and improve for the next time around.”

The rodeo life means spending months on the road, often away from family. It’s rare that the entire Minor/Crossley family is together under one roof, but when they are, there’s only one thing on their minds.

“We’re usually talking about the rodeo — where we’re going next, training our horses, and raising new colts,” she said. “I want to do this for as long as I can. Monroe already loves the horses, it just runs in the family.”

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