By Jessica Crabtree
Have you ever wanted to ride a horse, but were too scared? Or have you ever wanted to rope and ride or run barrels but didn’t know how? Jim Donnelly of Saginaw, Texas, took all those things into consideration when molding the Rodeo Zone Mini Ranch. Where many good ideas start, Donnelly’s, too, started with necessity. A former rodeo cowboy competing in team roping and rough stock events, his first invention started at home with his son. The two wanted a way to practice team roping on a mechanical steer, truly a father-son project. After creating their own, word spread and soon Donnelly was making and marketing them to others.
Donnelly has the ability to create an idea in his mind and actually form and manufacture it. As time went on Donnelly devised other creations to advance rodeo, some of which are used to train professional cowboys and cowgirls and are used in numerous professional rodeo cowboy association schools throughout the country. For a time, the Rodeo Zone Mini Ranch was temporarily housed at the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. After feeling that the Zone was going unnoticed, Donnelly took a leap of faith and moved the Zone to Saginaw on some acreage he’d previously purchased.
Three years ago the Rodeo Zone Mini Ranch opened its gate to visitors to offer quite a unique experience. To read more pick up the April 2016 NTFR issue.