Mark Garrett inducted into Pro Rodeo HOF
for Tri-State Livestock News
When Mark Garrett, was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame at Colorado Springs, Colorado in August 2015, it was the culmination of a long and successful rodeo career.
Garrett, who now lives near Nisland, South Dakota, grew upon a ranch near Aladdin, Wyoming. Mark’s family includes his father, Jack Garrett of Hays, Washington, his mother and stepfather, Mary and Richard DeYoe, now of Belle Fourche, South Dakota; his brothers Juan Garrett, Dupree, South Dakota; Marvin Garrett, Rozet, Wyoming; Kurt DeYoe, Colorado Springs, Colorado; and his sisters Javon Feister and Marlene Neiman.
“My whole life I’ve loved going to a rodeo,” says Garrett. “My uncles were big into rodeo and it was always like Christmas when I got to go to one. I’ve loved rodeo from my earliest memories. We all started riding calves and stuff as kids and we had a bucking barrel in the barn that got plenty of action.”
His bareback career started when he was in the 8th grade. He went to high school at Hulett, Wyoming and high school rodeoed. “We would go to all the open playday rodeos, like at Sundance, but high school is when I really got started,” says Garrett.
When older brother Marvin went to some rodeo schools, he brought back what he learned and shared it with Mark. “You try and take something from everyone, like JC Trujillo, Chris LeDoux, Joe Alexander and Bruce Ford. You can learn from every bareback rider,” says Garrett. “I credit my success to the people I had around me, though. I was high on my traveling crew. I traveled with Marvin, Kenny Lensegrav and Larry Sandvick. The four of us and our pilot Johnny Morris were quite a group. Having a pilot who loved rodeo as much as we did was fortunate.”
“I filled my PRCA permit in ’87, and hit the road hard. I made the WNFR a total of nine times. The plane crash was in ’98, and I was at the finals in ’99 and 2000,” says Garrett, referring to the crash that killed Morris and injured Marvin.
“I don’t feel like I ever perfected it but I kept trying to get better at it. It’s like anything in life, you’ve got to keep trying to get better,” says Garrett. In 2001, Garrett was on the road steady but starting to feel that he needed to be home more. “I had some injuries in 2002, got West Nile and had some trouble and by the time I was healed up from all of that I was about done. I rode my last rodeo horse at Denver in 2003 where I hurt my hand. In 2006 I rode one in a matched bronc ride and that was the last bareback I got on.”
“I think you’ve got to love the sport to do it. It demands a lot of attention. I’ve ridden piles of horses in my mind, trying to improve. You’ve got to crave it. Eat, sleep and drink it,” explains Garrett, adding “You’ve also got to be happy doing it. Too many get into the winning, not just doing the best they can and being satisfied. If you walk out of the arena with a smile on your face, you’re a winner to me.”
Though he still loves rodeo, Garrett is content to be at home. “I miss the friends I made on the road, but I still talk with them on the phone. I still spend time with Marvin, Larry and Kenny. That’s what rodeo was all about: the people we met and the good people we still have as friends.”
With four kids and seven grandkids, time at home is rich and rewarding. His two oldest daughters are married. Heidie and Larry Elwiss live in Belle Fourche and have four children. Chelsie and James Ogaard also live in Belle Fourche and have three children. Garrett’s youngest, Maddie and Morgen, are still at home. Maddie graduated from high school in 2015 and Morgen will be a freshman in high school.
“I’ve been busy going to rodeos with the kids this summer and I keep busy riding our horses at home.” says Garrett. Maddie and Morgen have just competed at the state 4-H rodeo finals where Garrett says “They did really good. They didn’t place, but they did well and we had a great time.”
When asked whether his son Morgen will follow in his footprints, Garrett says “He wants to get on some barebacks, so I think he’ll do that this year. Whatever he wants to do is fine with me though.”
Keeping busy isn’t a problem for Garrett and he and his old crew will be putting on a bareback school Nov. 13-15, at Marvin’s place. “We’re sure looking forward to it and it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’ll be the first time we’ve gotten together and done something like that and it’s been a while since we were all together anyway, so I’m excited about it.”
An induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame didn’t give this humble man a big head and he was honored to be considered a worthy addition. “I really enjoyed going and it was a neat deal. It was so nice to have my friends and family there too. I was touched by it a lot deeper than I thought I’d be.”