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Photo courtesy of @thatloperjessie on Instagram……

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Working as a loper just might be every girl’s dream. Waking up to spend the day riding horses? The ultimate goal! 

How does one get started as a loper? What’s it like? We answer all the good questions today as we talk with Jessica Medicus, a loper in New Mexico. 

Although she is a loper, her full title is, “a “cutting horse loper and a farm/ranch manager for a small cow/calf operation and hay farm.” She is employed “by an amazing family that go by The Carsons. (Carson Farms).” 

A little bit about Jessica, she was born in Southern California before moving to Southern New Mexico when she was 12 years old. Currently 20 years old, she lives in Roswell, New Mexico. “I worked as a firefighter for two years before I decided to go rogue and chase my dreams of working in the ag industry.” A decision she has never looked back on! She explains, “Ranching and a Western lifestyle has always been a huge dream of mine, and one day I decided to put myself out there and see what would happen. I sent out some job applications, followed some online groups, and looked on agricultural classified websites. Before I knew it, I was here! Living the ultimate dream.” 

“Ranching and Western lifestyle has always been a huge dream of mine…”

To describe her job, she says, “While my job has many duties, most of my work consists of exercising and managing the show horses, which is an all-year-round job, as well as overseeing the health and nutrition of the cows, and calves once they are born. Beginning in spring, and ending in fall, I also oversee the irrigation here on the farm using pivots, side rolls, and flood irrigation.” A jack of all trades! 

When asked about her daily schedule, she immediately jokes, “As most people in the cutting horse, ranch, and agriculture industry know, a consistent schedule is not common, and almost unheard of!” She continued to say her daily schedule is dependant on the seasons, explaining, “Summer for example, temperatures climbing about 108°, my day will begin anywhere to 4:00-5:30 AM (this time changes a lot).” 

Right now, her schedule hesitantly looks like this:  

  • “The first thing I’ll do is feed all of the horses and cattle. 
  • If we are in active irrigation, I’ll open up my valves and set my borders. Each border takes 2-4 hours, so I’ll make sure to check them throughout the day. 
  • While the horses are eating, I’ll water and drag the arena. 
  • After the arena is fresh and the horses have finished their morning grub, I’ll start saddling anywhere between 5-8 horses. Because I do this so often, it takes me around 15-20 minutes to get everyone saddled and on the walker. 
  • Each horse has their own leg-up routine, and it averages around 25-30 minutes of exercise per horse. 
  • After each horse gets ridden, I’ll wash them all down and put them on our Theraplate. This takes a lot of my day, and it’s a lot of work! 
  • For the remainder of my day, I’ll go to my house, that is on property, and jump back and forth from irrigation to the nice cool AC in my home! 
  • Once it starts to cool off, around 5pm, I’ll clean stalls, feed all of the livestock, check cattle, top off waters, lock everything up, and call it a day! 
  • I usually try and get all of this done by 7-8pm.”  

Her favorite part of her job is learning. “It seems like every day I learn something new here, and it makes me absolutely thrive. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about cattle this last calving season, and even though there has been some really sad times, I’ve learned so very much about cattle and their health, and it’s been an incredible experience.” 

Unlike most cowgirls in the industry, Jessie is the first in her family to be in the agriculture industry. “Growing up, we had the occasional horse or two throughout the years, but they were all half broke grade horses that could hardly be ridden, and definitely not properly. I was the only one who ever had the interest in riding them and I became addicted to them at a young age. My father doesn’t care for horses and my mother says ‘they’re pretty to look at’. It wasn’t until last year that I was really thrown into this industry, and I’ve loved every day since.” 

Jessica Medicus is a great example of going out and working for what you want! She found her passion and has stuck with it since! 

Her advice for those interested in becoming a loper or working in the ag industry: “be fearless. Do not let yourself be held back, we really only live one life and it’s important that we make the most of it. The next generation of cattlemen, cutting horse trainers, and farmers can come from anywhere. You don’t need to be born into this lifestyle to make it your own. Know that mistakes happen, but with enough grit, you can work through anything and be ready for what the next day throws at you. This line of work is hard and it’s not meant for everyone. There will be long days that sometimes feel like they’re without reward, but you’ll look back and realize they were fuller than anything else. Be fearless, work hard, stay motivated, and the best of things will happen.” 

You don’t need to be born into this lifestyle to make it your own… be fearless, work hard, stay motivated, and the best things will happen.”

It does not matter where you come from, you can still chase your passions!

Jessica would like to end with some more advice and this goes to all the young women out there! “I feel like the need of women in this industry is so important, and not talked about enough. Ranching has been a male dominated industry for a long time, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Women are breaking and charging right through those barriers, and I only hope to inspire more and more to continue to make their way through. I personally can count dozens of my women friends across the states that are pushing through just like I am, and blazing their own trails. There are so many new opportunities out there for women to enter into the industry, whether they start their own ranches or get hired on the team of another. We can’t be afraid to be aggressive with it. I started training colts this last year, and I’m so glad that I did. I saw an opportunity and I took it, which is what my fellow women have to do to stay ahead in the game.”

“Women are breaking and charging right through those barriers… There are so many new opportunities out there for women to enter the industry…”

You can keep up with Ms. Medicus and her daily adventures on her Instagram!