Ranch Champs

Two Colorado ranches make WRCA history.
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Credit: Erwin Sherman

Credit: Erwin Sherman

At the World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo last November, history was made when for the first time in its 19-year run, a team from Colorado took home top honors. 

The combined team from the Lord Ranch and Jolly Ranch branded calves, rode broncs, milked wild cows, doctored, and sorted cattle to win the event. The Working Ranch Cowboys Association only allows entering ranches to use cowboys who earn a majority of their income from that ranch, but often, a single ranch does not have enough employees to field a team, so the WRCA does allow for ranches to combine. 

That was the case for the Jolly and Lord Ranches, who both operate in eastern Colorado. Phy Lord is the principle operator of the Lord Ranch in Lamar, though his parents, Bobby and Donna, are still very active in ranch operations. 

“Mom’s grandfather, Otis Hoffman, homesteaded in Lamar in 1915,” Lord says. “He came from Illinois to Dodge City and then Lamar. The sign still says Hoffman Ranch and Mom is pretty much still the manager.”

Hoffman registered for the SC brand shortly after homesteading, but its source and significance are lost to history. Phy, along with his Wrangler NFR barrel racing wife, Shali, gave it new meaning three years ago with the birth of their son, Slade C Lord. 

One hundred and forty miles northwest of Lamar, east of Agate, is the Jolly Ranch. Operated by patriarch Kent Jolly, his son Jesse, and daughter Carly and her husband Dustin Bowling, they run mother cows on owned and leased land. 

Jesse’s great-grandfather, Charles, and his brother, James, bought the place in 1932 and the Bowling kids now represent the fifth generation to live on the ranch. 

They ride under the Lazy T, L brand, and it’s got a story in itself. As a young man, Kent was at a sale barn when a man offered to sell him the brand for the considerable bargain of one dollar. The only stipulation? That Kent use it on cattle.

“Since then,” Jesse Jolly says, “it’s never not been on livestock.”

And now, along with the SC brand, it’s etched in the history books of the Working Ranch Cowboys Association.