If you’ve been reading the blogs this past year about the Johnsons you may have said to yourself, “Why do they do it?” In the previous year the Johnsons have had great success and it would be unfair to not recognize that first before focusing on the difficulties they faced as they crossed the country nonstop to rodeos and clinics. 

Their truck broke down in the middle of the night, in the mountains when it was raining. Sherrylynn competed with a broken thumb and then later suffered a dislocated shoulder. She even spent the wee hours of the night sick in a hospital until a doctor prescribed enough medication to enable her to make it to her next destination in time to run in the slack.

When you have a chance to sit and talk with the Johnsons it’s quickly evident that there’s much more to their ongoing story than rodeo wins and injuries. 

If you could travel back to 1982 you would have seen the future in the making. Mike and Sherrylynn, high school classmates, won the state championship in ribbon roping. After high school Mike continued to rodeo and Sherrylynn went to college on a rodeo scholarship. With the help of the scholarship, Sherrylynn earned her Bachelor’s degree, went on to get a Master’s degree in Counseling and is all but dissertation for a Doctorate in Education. If you have a chance to talk with Sherrylynn she might inadvertently make you feel a bit like an underachiever!

Mike got his pro rodeo card when he was 18. Sherrylynn was working for Purina Mills when she decided to pursue barrel racing more aggressively. With the help and flexibility of Purina and the help of her mom who drove, Sherrylynn began competing in earnest.

Mike has been going to National Finals Rodeo since the very early 80’s for a total of 23 trips to NFR so far. Sherrylynn made her first of many trips to the finals in 1999. Although details weren’t asked or shared, Mike and Sherrylynn, previous high school friends, ended up married in 2001.

Listening to their schedule of driving, competing, driving more, doing a clinic, driving, on and on and on … it’s enough to make your head spin and want to go to your home and never leave it again. But the Johnsons very obviously enjoy their life. Mike and Sherrylynn are one of the very few rodeo couples that travel together. It is even more rare for a rodeo couple to both compete. 

Mike and Sherrylynn seem to have found a way to mix work and early retirementwith fun so they sometimes feel like they’re enjoying an early retirement. Traveling and competing takes a lot of work. It’s perhaps more than what many people would want to tolerate. But in between the driving, the clinics and competing the Johnsons take advantage of their lifestyle. They have traveled the country far and wide. They stop to see the sights, go to a football game or watch a movie and eat dinner at home in the trailer (although it’s more like a house on wheels). Accompanying them is their Boston Terrier who acts like the bling on her collar are actually jewels on a crown.

If you were to ask the Johnsons what the main reward is for them and hope to get a phrase that you could ponder for days and apply it to your own horsemanship you might be disappointed. The rewards they get from their rodeo lifestyle can’t fit into a few words. You have to collect it in pieces from the whole conversation. Their reward comes in being together, supporting each other in competition, seeing the country and most certainly in helping the next generation of rodeo competitors develop their skills and their passion for the horse and for the sport.

With that type of commitment the Johnsons show no signs of slowing … or even just taking a short respite. Mike jokes that he and Sherrylynn will finish their rodeo days the way they started … with competing in ribbon roping. Only this time it will be in the Senior’s Rodeo.

But that is a long way off and in the meantime the Johnsons are sure to be fun to watch as they continue each year to compete and educate. Hopefully they will give us a little less excitement with fewer injuries and illnesses than last year.

Sherrylynn has a new horse she calls Turnpike and Mike continues to compete with Bam Bam. Although Sherrylynn isn’t facing the same allergy issues with a horse as last year, they continue to use Bye Bye Odor in the trailer and the black water tank. It’s true that once you use Bye Bye Odor and get rid of the smell of urine and ammonia, you’ll continue to use it because you won’t be willing tolerate that odor any more.

Check back often to read more news about the Johnsons during their 2012 season.