Performer John Payne’s story in his own words
February 22, 2013
I started in rodeo in 1987 at the 101 Wild West Rodeo in Ponca City, OK. I sold Walter Alsbaugh, the stock contractor, some wild bulls that came out of the swamps of Florida.
In those days I gathered wild cattle in several states. My slogan: "If you can turn 'em loose, I can catch 'em." The foundation of my rodeo career was horsemanship and the use of Blackmouth Cur dogs.
While at the rodeo in Ponca City, I witnessed an act that was low on talent. Of course, I mouthed off to the stock contractor and he said "We'll just let you be the entertainment next year."
A fading cattle market and high interest had left me flat broke, $100,000 in debt and living with my grandmother. I built my first trailer from scratch and bought my first truck from my brother Bob for $800 (which took a year to pay-off).
My first show was in the same place the next year. I put five Corriente steers on top of my trailer with the aid of Blackmouth Cur dogs. A few weeks later, Clem McSpaden hired me to go to Bushyhead, OK, to perform in an 80 acre pasture at his steer roping. There is where I received my first paycheck. It seemed like a paid vacation after three decades of working on a ranch.
The first year, I entertained about 90 crowds traveling with the Walt Alsbaugh Rodeo Company and was nominated for PRCA "Specialty Act of the Year." Though I did not win the award that year, I did win in 1989, '90, '91, '92, '93, '94, '95, '96 and then again '08, '09, '10 and '11.
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Animals in the show consist of Longhorn-Watusi Steers, mustangs, mules and buffalo. Blackmouth Cur dogs are a very integral part of the training process. My son Lynn and daughter Amanda hit the road at the age of 18, which allowed us to take our show in three directions.
It is fulfilling to have my son, Lynn, and daughter, Amanda, display their talents. They are truly my right hand. Soon, I will have grandkids in the show and may slow down a bit to spend more time with my wife, Judy.