Laramie Johnson battled through the heartache of losing her main horse “Easy” just a week before the 2023 Southeastern Circuit Finals in Davie, Florida, to win the year-end and average championship on borrowed mare “Chex.”
“My goal was to finish what I had started with Easy,” Johnson, 27, said.
With an aggregate of 8.6 seconds on three head, Johnson’s total of $5,418 won at the Circuit Finals brought her year-end sum to $16,867.
On Wednesday, Nov. 1, Johnson lost 17-year-old gelding Easy to a rare form of colic—strangulation of the intestines via a hernia in the intestinal wall. According to veterinarians, there was nothing Johnson could have done by the time Easy started showing discomfort. Shortly after losing him, Johnson heard from Southeastern Circuit peer Josey Murphy, who offered her 7-year-old mare, “Chex,” to Johnson for the Finals.
“The first time I ever competed on her was at the circuit finals,” Johnson said. “I’d seen the mare go a bunch, and knew she was good.”
Murphy said she offered Chex to Johnson because she’d want someone to do the same for her.
“[Johnson] had time to rope on [Chex] once before we had to leave, and they did outstanding at the Circuit Finals together,” Murphy said.
Game time at the Southeastern Circuit Finals
It was a hot, humid Circuit Finals in Florida, with the temperature hovering around 90 degrees. Breakaway roping was the first event in the lineup, and a short start made it a fast and fun setup for the ropers.
Johnson roped in 2.2 seconds in Round 1, winning it and earning $1,548.
“Winning the first round was memorable because that’s when I thought, ‘I can do this,’” Johnson explained. “It was surreal. Winning that off the bat made me able to back off a little and play for the average.”
Rounds 2 and 3 followed with times of 3.6 and 2.8 seconds, putting her at the top of the average leaderboard.
Johnson’s success was bittersweet, knowing that Easy had won the money that laid the foundation for her year-end victory and Circuit Finals qualification. Johnson will be attending the NFR Open in July 2024 with a new horse and is currently searching for the perfect partner.
Laramie Johnson’s Top 2023 circuit wins
- Durant Pro Rodeo, Oklahoma: $3,002
- Mt. Pleasant Rodeo, Texas: $2,077
- Bartow Citrus Roundup Pro Rodeo, Florida: $1,199
- Cotton Blossom Roundup, Nashville, Georgia: $927
Joining Johnson at the 2024 NFR Open will be the No. 2 finisher in the Southeastern Circuit Year-End Bethany Ferguson, who finished the year with $11,830 earned.
Southeastern Circuit Finals Breakaway Results
First round: 1. Laramie Johnson, 2.2 seconds, $1,548; 2. Brooke Ladner, 2.4, $1,161; 3. Traci Ashton, 2.8, $774; 4. Della Bird, 3.1, $387.
Second round: 1. Kelsey Mabry, 2.3 seconds, $1,548; 2. Bethany Ferguson, 2.4, $1,161; 3. Ashley Henderson, 2.5, $774; 4. Josey Murphy, 2.6, $387.
Third round: 1. Laramie Johnson, 2.8 seconds, $1,548; 2. Traci Ashton, 3.2, $1,161; 3. Ashley Henderson, 3.7, $774; 4. Lacey Nail, 11.9, $387.
Average: 1. Laramie Johnson, 8.6 seconds on three head, $2,322; 2. Traci Ashton, 8.7, $1,741; 3. (tie) Brooke Ladner and Ashley Henderson, 6.2 on two head, $871 each.