Luke Jones grew up on a cattle ranch Allerton, Iowa. He competed in high school rodeo including cutting and he trained his own rope horses. He won numerous championships in calf and team roping and attended Missouri Valley College on a rodeo scholarship where he earned a Business Management degree. A mentor told him that if he really wanted to make a living with horses he needed to do the horse show circuits. Jones loaded up and started competing in ropings.
After watching the cow horse classes at shows he decided to give that discipline a try. Jones never worked for a cow horse trainer but he has received a lot of help along the way. He competed in his first Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2007. Then he slowly started to build his cow horse program and has won almost $1 million in NRCHA earnings. Now more than half of his barn are cow horses, the rest are rope horses. He said he works the cow horses first and then he and his sons go roping later in the day.
Jones has won 2017 Reserve World’s Greatest Horseman, numerous roping AQHA championships and has been a finalist at NRCHA premier events.
What is your training philosophy?
“Being able to find what these horses want to do and what they will excel at. I’m not the type of guy that will say you’re going to do that event. I’ve always tried to find what that horse is happy doing. We rope on the really good cow horses too, I feel like it really gives the horse something else to do and free up their mind.”
What inspires you?
“It’s taking that young horse and developing them. We bought my World’s Greatest mare Tommy Boon at the NCHA Futurity Sale. Those horses you bring along and see them develop into that great horse, that’s what keeps me going. And I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve had several of them that way… Some horses I’ve ridden and showed the whole family and that inspires me.”
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
“I feel like you need to invest in yourself as well. Early in my career I didn’t know if I was getting the horses I needed to be successful and we went and bought a nice mare and trained her up. That was the horse that I really started getting some stuff done on…Don’t ever quit learning… I’m constantly searching for knowledge and a better way to do it.”
What are you known for as a trainer?
“Being an all around trainer…I really enjoy being able to be competitive in [cow horse and roping].”
What kind of goals do you have for yourself?
“I’m close to being an NRCHA Million Dollar Rider, I’m an Equistat Million Dollar Rider. I would love to win the Futurity or be first at the World’s Greatest.”
How do you define feel? Can you teach feel?
“To teach feel is really hard. There are definitely people that are born with it. You can develop feel with a lot of time…[Feel means] being one with that horse. I want him to be with me. I hate the feeling of a horse not being with me throughout a run. Between my legs and between my hands and have that feel of connection.”