September, 1949 -
First attended a gay rodeo in 1983
John Beck was the first of three children for Roger and Mildred Beck and grew up in Clarks, Nebraska. John started riding on a black & white rocking horse that his dad made. He then received his first pony on Christmas Day, 1954. When he was in the 5th grade, his family moved to O'Neill, Nebraska where he joined the local 4-H club and started showing cattle and horses.
His brother Jerry said, "Even after we worked all day on the farm, John would still ride horses - practicing events, training horses to switch gaits and turn on a dime - so many cloverleaf patterns and so many circles, over and over around those barrels and poles."
His first "real" horse was Dinah, the mother to John's beloved mare, Bay Lady. The two of them were standouts in the Nebraska Horse Club Association as well as Nebraska State Champions in Barrel Racing. The bookshelves in John's mother's home to this day continue to sag from the weight of all of his buckles and trophies.
John moved to Denver in 1983, joined the CGRA, and competed in Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo #4 after meeting Wayne Jakino in Charlie's who said, "I hear you can ride." John also participated in the Royalty program - he was Mr. CGRA in 1986/87 and went on to be a Mr. IGRA Runner-Up in 1987/88.
John and his horse Cannon traveled to Vancouver for the 3rd Gay Games in 1990. This was the first Gay Games to hold equestrian events and he won gold medals in Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, and the Flag Race. He is hoping to compete in the 9th Gay Games when it comes to Cleveland in 2014.
After he retired Cannon, he competed on Rocky for many, many years until Duke came along. Duke never seems to tire, even after long road trips, but is starting to show his age. John is currently training a big paint gelding name Diamond for future competition.
John has won several All-Around titles - primarily in Denver, Salt Lake City, and Wichita - and has competed in every IGRA Finals Rodeo except for Reno in 2006. Only a barrel racing injury kept him from heading west for that rodeo.
In addition to all of his personal achievements, John has trained and supported many other contestants on the IGRA circuit. He has assisted every CGRA Royalty team in preparing their horsemanship tapes, often lending his horse in addition to his time and expertise. Although he gave up competing in rough stock over 10 years ago, he has continued to educate and start many others who have gone on to win buckles in those events. And many of us have benefited from one of his roping clinics or horsemanship training sessions.
Today, John lives north of Denver with Larry, his partner of 23 years, and their 3 horses and 2 cats. We truly salute the old lady of Gay Rodeo. Congratulations, Nellie! :