U of A student is also a full-time cowboy and is working to build his rodeo stock
Jay Hampton was sitting at the corner booth of the T&T Diner surrounded by old men sipping coffee and chattering about the daily news in the next county over, hunting season and cattle markets. The sense of community was overwhelming. The door chimed as a gentleman walked in and sat down next to a few men that had been there all morning.
“This is going to be me one day. I’m going to feed in the mornings and come down here to drink my coffee with the locals,” Jay said. Jay said although he plans on becoming an optometrist, he always sees himself in the agricultural and rodeo industry.
Jay is a full-time poultry science student at the University of Arkansas, as well as a full-time cowboy. The Springdale, Ark., native belongs to the Hampton Pro Rodeo Company and has been busy building his own rodeo stock.
Jay has been surrounded by agriculture and rodeo for his entire life. Kevin Hampton, Jay’s father, started Hampton Rodeo Company roughly 30 years ago. The family has contracted stock with the American Cowboy Rodeo Association (ACRA) and International Professional Rodeo Association for the last several years, but they recently bought a stock contracting card with the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and will officially transition into Hampton Pro Rodeo in 2019. The Hampton family also owns about 100 head of commercial cattle.
It is clear to anyone that meets Jay that he has an unmatchable work ethic. The sophomore manages a nearly perfect grade point average and plans on attending professional school to become an optometrist after obtaining his bachelor’s of science. He said he balances school and rodeo by treating school like a job.
“When I’m at school, I’m at school. I try not to bring anything from home with me,” Jay said. “When I know I’m gonna be busy, I stay at school and get everything done and then go home and do whatever I need to do there. I try to treat school like a job, when I’m there I’m working and when I’m not, I’m not.”
Jay said he chose to pursue a degree in poultry science because his high school agriculture teacher suggested it and the poultry industry is large and growing. There will always be something to fall back on if he needs it.
Jay started to develop a personal interest in the rodeo industry when he was about 16 when he began to flank horses for his dad.
“After about the first year of being dad’s main man, I got interested,” Jay said. “I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
Colt Macom, Jay’s lifelong friend, said Jay is one of the most dedicated people that he has ever met.
“He’s got a great work ethic,” Macom said. “If something is broke, he will fix it. Failure is really not an option for him. If something goes wrong, he will always get it fixed pretty soon.”
Macom said he has seen Jay improve and mature throughout the past few years.
“He had to step up big time to flank horses when he was younger and now, he is Kevin’s right-hand man. He has matured greatly from that,” Macom said.
Jay started building his own stock around two years ago.
“I bought six horses off of Frontier Rodeo Company and since then, I’ve just grown,” he said.
Since Jay’s beginnings, he has grown and began to develop his own genetic dynasty. Jay said his favorite bloodlines come from Frontier Rodeo.
“They got a stud named Big Medicine and he sires some great horses. I got lucky and bought some horses out of him when they were young, and they ended up being good and I can raise babies out of them,” Jay said. “You just gotta cross it and play with it, you never know what is going to work. Some of the best horses ever raised these days come from parents that didn’t even buck. You’ve got to give everything a shot.”
One of Hampton’s horses, Barry’s Girl, is the 2018 Bareback Horse of the Year for the ACRA.
Jay has big plans for his stock.
“I’d like to go to the National Finals Rodeo with a bucking horse and I’d really like to win a futurity with one the horses I’ve raised,” Jay said.
The main draw of optometry to Jay is opening his own practice and setting his own hours. He said would be ideal for him balancing work and life, especially because he plans on being involved in rodeo for as long as he can.
“I see it as a dying thing, the cowboy way of life, and its something I want to keep going and have an impact on. I want to keep the traditions of rodeos going,” Jay said.
Family. Tradition. Rodeo. Hampton Pro Rodeo holds true to these values in their daily operations and Jay holds true to them in his life, career and schooling.