Harold Jarrard was born and raised in Cowboy Country on the North Fork of Powder River, the Wyoming creek that is the source of one of the western world’s most famous cries, “Powder River, Let ‘Er Buck.”
Letting horses buck is exactly what Jarrard has been doing– for more than 60 years. He began riding broncs as a very young man, breaking horses for neighboring ranchers in and near his hometown of Kaycee.
By the time he was seventeen, Harold, along with a cousin, Emery Dawson, used his riding skills to be a contestant in rodeos in several states, so he could achieve his ultimate goal of reaching what might have been considered a cowboy’s Shangri-la in the 1920’s Texas.
On the famed Matador Land & Cattle Company ranch, the young Jarrard followed a round up wagon with a crew of 22 men, gathering, branding, leading wild cattle into holding pastures and — of course, riding broncs.
Like the cowboys of an earlier age, Jarrard worked for various outfits, doing a variety of jobs. One of the most interesting which he likes to recall was being one of three men to take 60 head of horses to Arkansas in the 1960’s.
Through those early years, Jarrard constantly developed his horsemanship skills, which began when he acquired his first horse — at the tender age of five. As he rodeoed, somewhere along the way, Jarrard began evolving into the capable pickup man he would become. “I never went to a bucking school,” he smiles, “just the School of Hard Knocks. I slid a long way on my face a few times learning what I did.”
He credits his grandfather and father for his inherited natural ability with horses.
If there were championship statue for those who break and train horses, Jarrard might well be at the top. Jarrard never used a horse he didn’t break, because he wanted to know what he could do. Jarrard served as mentor to and eventually partnered with Kenny Claybaugh, who fast became what Harold calls, “one of the best professional pickup men in the world.”
Jarrard picked up bucking horses at local high school rodeos. Additionally, he picked up at the State and National HIgh School Rodeo Finals as well as College Rodeos. For the thousands of young high school and college rodeo cowboys who never made the big time, Jarrard has been the salvation for riders who went on to become well-known professional rodeo names — Casey Tibbs, Bud Linderman, Bill Linderman, Clinton Small, J.D. McKenna, Don Wilson, Chris LeDoux, Marvin Garrett, Deke Latham and Craig Latham to list a few.
In addition to Harold’s rodeo work, he and his wife, Pat, reared a large family. Eight of the young Jarrards (Sonny, Dick, Roy, Tom, Murph, Lindsay, Madeline and Tami) were taught “horse know-how” and ranching skills at the hand of their father. The marriage of Harold and Pat Jarrard could fittingly be called, “a partnership in family, ranching, rodeo, and perpetuation of the western lifestyle.”
Harold Jarrard was instrumental in developing the Powder River Protective Association, whose purpose was to thwart modern day livestock thieves. He worked with the Wyoming Livestock Association as a very young man to achieve the same goal. Addtionally, Jarrard was very involved in the development of the Dull Knife Dam located at the head of the north fork of Powder River. Harold served for 12 years as a Johnson County Commissioner, during which time the new Johnson County Library was built, considerable improvements were made at the Johnson County Fairgrounds and an addition was built on the Johnson County Memorial Hospital in Buffalo. He was also instrumental in getting a community building and arena complex in Kaycee and as a tribute to him, it was named the Harold Jarrard Park.
In 1996, Jarrard received the Bradford Brinton Memorial “Top Hand Award”. In 1997 he was inducted into The National Cowboy Hall of Fame, receiving the Chester A. Reynolds Lifetime Achievement Award.
Harold Jarrard is no longer picking up bucking horses, but at 95 years young he still lives at home, on the his ranch, east of Kaycee.