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Female trick artist one-of-a-kind
Larned Santa Fe Trail Days
Courtesy photo Trick rope artist Joan Wells grew up in Seward, Neb. Her first mentor was her cousin, Almon Bates of Longmont, Colo.

LARNED — Joan Wells, a member of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, grew up as a cowgirl, and she’s still living her dream.
The world champion trick roper will be one of the featured acts during Larned’s Santa Fe Trail Days Saturday. The 30-minute show will start at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. Saturday by the Pawnee County Courthouse.
Her routine of trick roping is choreographed to western music as she spins the rope smoothly as she goes from one trick to the next. Her routine, which reflects the roping style during the Wild West era, requires dexterity, agility, precision and skill.
“My enjoyment as a trick roper is mostly the travel and meeting the people especially showing kids rope tricks,” she said. “I enjoy doing shows where this style of roping is more identified like in Oklahoma and Texas and western-themed events. I enjoy the autonomy of having your own business.”
Wells wanted to be a cowgirl after learning about horses and trick roping from her cousin Almon Bates, a rodeo cowboy from Longmont, Colo.  She started roping at age 4 and took instruction from Jim Eskew Jr., a world champion trick roper from Ardmore, Okla.
At one time, Wells performed at more than 100 shows a year, including the Kansas State Fair. Wells was the first woman in the world to perform the difficult horse catch. This trick involves roping a horse and rider from a spinning loop as they run full speed across the arena. 
She performs about 30 times a year in a multi-state area and still must practice every day to keep her skills and timing.
“It takes years of practice and training to learn enough tricks for a performance — I’m still learning,” she said. “I practice an hour to two hours a day in 30 minute  practice sessions as it is very physical.”
The tricks she identifies as some of her favorites are  butterfly rollovers, the juggle, Texas Skip combinations and two-rope tricks.
“Those took a lot of perfection,” she said.
The native of Seward, Neb. learned to perform at an early age when she performed trick roping and sang western music while playing her guitar on local television in Lincoln, Neb.
Wells earned the title as Women’s World Champion Trick Roper in 1979 when she won the Freelance and Texas Skip competition at the Will Rogers Trick Roping Contest in Claremore, Okla.  
Wells won first place in the international Intermediate Horse Catch event in 2006-2007. She has made national appearances during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
More information is available at her web site,