John Joseph “Johnny” Carr was “let out
of the chute” December 13, 1940, in Lewistown. Not long after, the family moved to Christina, Montana, where three- year-old Johnny tried to take their new
I-H tractor for a ride. He managed to get the tractor rolling, but fear set in, and he jumped. The tractor rolled over the side of his head, earning him twenty-eight stitches. (He would go on to blame any unwise decision making on that head injury.)
At the age of six, Johnny moved with the family to Broadus. They lived seven miles from the school, so each day he and his brothers rode their horse to and from the country school. His father had a fear of the boys getting hung up in the stirrups so they rode bareback.
When Johnny was in junior high, the family moved back to Christina.
If you grow up an athlete with a horse under you, rodeo just comes naturally. In 1956, Johnny won the state high school bareback championship in Wolf Point. Larry Jordan of Roy took a liking to Johnny and mentored him in several rodeo events. Johnny went on to win numerous first place awards in calf roping, team roping, and saddle bronc.
From 1957 to 1962, Johnny entered rodeos in Montana and Wyoming and was named All Around Cowboy on several occasions and competed against many who went on to become World Champions. He chose not to compete nationally as there were no sponsors back in the ‘60s, and the cost often outweighed the prize money.
Of course, being a cowboy isn’t just the drama of a rodeo arena. It’s outside on the range, doctoring sick cows, breaking horses, and learning to avoid gopher holes. It is knowing your stock, roping, cutting, and pairing while learning to fall without getting hurt. Johnny put his cowboy skills to work at the Havre Livestock Association, where he was employed for five years.
He went on to manage feedlots in Kansas and Nebraska. It was here he married Carolyn Rauch.
A true pioneer, Johnny bought land in Belize, Central America in 1973. For the first fifteen years, the family cleared the land and built a lodge in the
jungle, without the accessibility of electricity. After building, the guests started to arrive simply by word of mouth. At one point they were lighting sixty-plus kerosene lanterns each night at the uniquely named Banana Bank Lodge on the ranch. The Carrs lived next to a river with no local bridges, so they transported supplies, food, and even guests in hollowed- out wooden canoes.
At age 80, Johnny continues to run Longhorn cattle, raise crops of corn, sugar cane, and teakwood and is building up his horse herd. With the addition of a registered quarter horse stud and a number of mares, they now run over 75 head. Hosting riding camps, guiding trail rides through the jungle, and mentoring students in the fine art of being a cowboy keeps everyone busy. Johnny says he owes his success to his Montana roots and faith in God.
“Treasure isn’t always cash or gold,” says Johnny. “It’s also a good life, being friends with your family
and neighbors, honesty, and walking tall down the street. That’s what makes you a product of the Treasure State.”