February 19, 1954 -
First attended a gay rodeo in 1983
Involved in gay rodeo through 2017
Jeannine was born February 19, 1954 in Austin, Texas, a country girl through and through. At age seven, her family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where her love of horses began...riding her aunt's horse and her neighbor's horses every chance she got. When she was 13, Jeannine talked her Grandfather into buying her, her first horse. He was a 14 month old Quarter-Pony. Jeannine broke and trained him herself and then started competing in play days and 4-H rodeos. Once in high school she joined the Rodeo Team; competing in Barrels, Poles and Goat Tying. Steer Riding was added in as another event for girls and on a "DARE" she entered and placed third. That was all it took, Jeannine was hooked, and she placed on every steer she rode after that.
After high school Jeannine went to Eastern New Mexico University where she began competing in Bull Riding in the All Girl Rodeos and the Intramural Rodeos. Women were not allowed to compete in Bull Riding at the college rodeos, but administrators said she could make exhibition rides. Jeannine jumped at the opportunity to ride more bulls. Her freshman year she was asked to ride in a "Battle of the Sexes." The two riders were about the same height and weight and rode the same two bulls. Jeannine won! After graduating from college with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, Jeannine moved to San Antonio, Texas to begin her teaching career.
Jeannine thought her rodeo days were over until her good friend, and one of the founders of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA), Judy Gayle, told her that Texas was starting a gay rodeo association. Jeannine joined TGRA and competed in Bull Riding in the first Texas rodeo in 1984. Other than the National Reno Gay Rodeos, Jeannine competed in every gay rodeo produced in the 1984, 1985 and 1986 rodeo seasons. Jeannine really enjoyed teaching and coaching all of the new bull and wild cow riders.
Jeannine moved to California with her partner Erin Eaton (2011 Hall of Fame inductee) right after the 1985 Texas rodeo. She began working in her family's wholesale HVAC parts business. Starting out in the warehouse and ending up as the President of the Corporation. Jeannine soon joined the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association (GSGRA); becoming the 123rd member.
IGRA began assigning permanent contestant numbers in the 1986 rodeo season, and Jeannine was given the first women's contestant number (1001), which she was still competing with in 2013. At the 1986 Road Runner Regional Rodeo in Phoenix, Jeannine received scores of 93 and 91 in the Wild Cow Riding competition. Those were the two highest scores ever recorded in that IGRA event which was eliminated a few years later because of the high number of contestant injuries occurring in the bucking chutes. Later in 1986, Jeannine scored 96 points on her last competitive bull ride which was at the Great Plains Regional Rodeo in Oklahoma City. Jeannine was the 1986 IGRA International Champion in Women's Bull Riding and Wild Cow Riding.
In 1987 Jeannine began officiating in the positions of Arena Director and Chute Coordinator. During that time she was also teaching Erin to be a Chute Coordinator. At the IGRA Convention in August of 1987 it was decided that all rodeo officials must be certified. Jeannine was grandfathered in as a Certified Arena Director and a Certified Chute Coordinator. Jeannine was the Chute Boss at the first IGRA Finals Rodeo in Hayward, California. (Prior to the implementation of the Certification Program). She was also appointed to chair the Arena Directors Committee. Jeannine and Casey Jackson (2007 Hall of Fame inductee) wrote the certification program for Arena Directors, and Jeannine and Erin wrote the certification program for Chute Coordinators. Jeannine and Erin also came up with the color scheme for the certified official's vests. "Mama" Tuttle made and donated all of the vests for the GSGRA rodeos. In 1987, 1988 and 1989 she officiated at all of the California and Arizona rodeos and at one Colorado rodeo. In 1988 she was scheduled to be the Arena Director for the second IGRA Finals Rodeo near Reno before the rodeo was cancelled at the last minute because of homophobia. She was the Bucking Chute Coordinator at the 1989 IGRA Finals Rodeo held in Phoenix, Arizona. Jeannine continued to chair the Arena Directors Committee in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
Jeannine was very active with GSGRA. She chaired the Events Committee for the LA Rodeo from 1987 - 1990. In 1987, GSGRA lost a member contestant just days before the rodeo. Jeannine proposed that "The Ceremony of the Riderless Horse" be performed during Grand Entry, and that GSGRA retire the number 1 in honor of all the rodeo members who had passed away. That was the first time this ceremony was performed at an IGRA rodeo. When the Greater Los Angeles Chapter was formed in 1987 she was elected President and re-elected in 1988. Following that, Jeannine was the GSGRA State President from 1989 - 1992. In 1988, Jeannine was also elected to serve a three year term as the GSGRA Trustee on the IGRA Board of Directors. She chaired the IGRA Board of Trustees in 1989 and 1990.
Jeannine began competing again in 1990 in all of the events except rough stock. She rode a little grey horse named Holmes. He was broke to ride, but had never been roped on or run any patterns. They learned together and just got better and better. Jeannine decided to try Chute Dogging for one season. She never made a single dog and said that she had seen every part of the arena and every part of the steer that human eyes should not see, thus the one season. At the time of her induction into this Hall of Fame Jeannine had won over 60 event buckles, and was still competing. She was the All-Around Cowgirl in Seattle - 1995, San Diego - 1995 and LA - 1996. Jeannine was the 1995 International Champion Women's Breakaway Calf Roper.
Jeannine received the IGRA Trustees Award in 1987, the IGRA Directors Award in 1990, the IGRA Service Award in 1991, and the Wayne Jakino Western Lifestyle Award in 2011. She was honored to be one of the 1999 Grand Marshals at the Sierra Stampede Rodeo in Sacramento, and in 2008 she was inducted into the TGRA Hall of Fame.
In February of 1998, Jeannine's two year old son Jerry Lee was diagnosed with leukemia. She said: "If it were not for my rodeo family I would not have made it through his three years of chemo. I love you all." In 2013, Jerry was almost 18 and was a senior in high school.
Jeannine moved to Lytle, Texas in 2002 and rejoined TGRA - San Antonio Chapter. The 2009 "A Texas Tradition Rodeo" was produced in the San Antonio area, and Jeannine co-chaired the Buckles Committee. In 2011 and 2012 she was the San Antonio Chapter Representative on the TGRA State Board of Trustees. Jeannine did not run for that position in 2013 so that she could care for a young paraplegic friend.
In 2008 she moved to Rising Star, Texas where she resides with her partner Connie, 4 horses, 5 donkeys, 2 llamas, 5 dogs and a snake. Her full time job is taking care of the house, 30 acres and the "critters." Jeannine was still competing on her grey horse Holmes, when she finally had to say goodbye in 2009. Besides her love of horses and rodeos, she also breeds and shows her Fila Brasileiro dogs.