TOP ROPERS: Kylie Hancock, Tahnee Small and Julie Small with Julie's horse Jack after a successful Christmas Run.
TOP ROPERS: Kylie Hancock, Tahnee Small and Julie Small with Julie's horse Jack after a successful Christmas Run. Gerard Walsh

Mother takes up professional sport at 55

RODEO: At age 55, Julie Small is only just getting serious about rodeo.

In the 1980s, she was third in breakaway roping at the Warwick Rodeo, her first placing in professional rodeo.

Her second win in the Australian Professional Rodeo Association was more than three decades later at Myrtleford in north east Victoria on Boxing Day last year as part of the Christmas Run.

She might never have competed again except for a visit to the place of good friend Tania Weier.

"Tania had a new roping horse, I had a go on the horse and caught every calf,” she said.

She had the rodeo bug again and after a break of 13 years for the birth of her four children, she was back roping in the National Rodeo Association.

Her second professional rodeo was at Millmerran so the second at Myrtleford gave her two placings in her first three rodeos in the APRA.

"This year I have joined up with the APRA and plan to compete at two rodeos at Emerald, Roma and Clermont and later in the year Richmond, Hughenden, Cloncurry and Mt Isa,” she said.

Small was part of a convoy of six ropers who travelled south to compete on the Christmas Run in the APRA.

"I had three catches out of six in the breakaway roping and was placed at Myrtleford and just missed a place in two other rodeos,” Small said.

She was timed at 3.1 seconds behind Nicole McDonald from South Australia at Myrtleford, .8 of a second outside her career best.

"I was in a field of 50 at Myrtleford,” she said.

Her sons Wade, Mitch and Brock have won three of the four major buckles at the Warwick Rodeo in the past two years and compete on the circuit with their mother, sister Tahnee Small and Mitch's girlfriend Kylie Hancock.

The three women all compete in breakaway roping

"We train and rope together and push each other all the time which makes us more competitive,” Small said.

The trio have yet to all place at the one rodeo but Tahnee was third and Hancock fourth in breakaway roping at a rodeo at Yarrawonga in Victoria last month.

Heading into professional rodeo at the age of 55 doesn't faze Small.

"I want to do well while I am fit and healthy, a lot of the competitors don't think I am 55,” she said.