On April Fools’ in 1977 Bill and Evelyn Wright welcomed their first son into the family. The joke might have been on them as the couple had no idea what a legacy in rodeo had just begun.
Cody was born at the couple’s home in Toquerville, Utah, with a family doctor on hand to assist with the delivery of the couple’s second child. When the doctor showed up, Bill answered the door with an “April Fools,” exclamation. But before the doctor could turn around and head out, they let him know that there was no joke. Shortly after that, the couple’s oldest son entered the world.
While he was growing up, Cody spent a lot of time with his dad. “I definitely was his sidekick,” Cody said. “We were ranching and farming and I don’t every really remember not being with him.”
As Cody got older, more siblings came along – 11 to be exact for a total of 13 children. They each took their turns with Bill. Cody started taking more responsibility and working on his own. That led to him getting a ranch job in Nevada when he was 12 years old. He went to classes and spent time with his family during the school year, and then headed to Nevada to work in the summers.
That happened until he was 16, about the same time he discovered that his love for horses included the ones that didn’t like having someone on their backs. He competed in high school rodeo all four years and was about to embark on a life filled with rodeo, kids, and more rodeo.
Cody and his wife ShaRee got married before either of them turned 20 years old. That relationship has withstood 23 years of Cody being gone, and ShaRee managing everything at home, including their children.
Joining the PRCA in 1998 seemed to be the next logical step for someone who thought perhaps they could make a living rodeoing. Those thoughts went through Cody’s mind, but he wasn’t sure what to do next. He didn’t know anyone that competed full time and while his dad rode in high school and college, having a family to support never let him test the waters.
So, Cody worked and went to some rodeos that were close to home. His job became very important as his family was also growing. Rusty was born in 1995 and Ryder in 1997. With obligations of being a husband and father and wanting to be the best he could be at everything he set his mind to, Cody decided it was time to take riding bucking horses seriously. And while he was confident he could do that, he didn’t know anything about rodeoing on a level that would accomplish his goals and help provide for his family.
Enter three-time world champion saddle bronc rider Shawn Davis. Shawn was the rodeo coach at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) in Twin Falls. Three years after graduating from high school, Cody loaded up the family and moved to Idaho to further his education.
While he was there, he worked for Shawn, was shoeing horses, taking classes and learning everything he could about saddle bronc riding. They had plenty of practice horses at the college and Cody was often the first on and the last one off.
“We had a real good program and we were well organized,” Davis said. “We probably had 60 head of bucking horses. Cody came there highly recommended.”
Davis also had racehorses, a hobby that he continues today. That took him away from the college periodically, but when Cody Wright was around he knew when he got back everything would be as it should be.
“Those kids could do anything,” he said. “They have such a work ethic. Cody would gallop horses, fix fence and shoe horses. He’d be babysitting and have Rusty and Ryder along, ride some practice horses and then work some more. His work ethic is unbelievable and even then he was capable of doing anything.”
Cody was part of men’s championship team for CSI at the College National Finals Rodeo in 2001. That year, he also finished second in the saddle bronc riding behind Cody DeMers a fellow team member who would become Cody Wright’s first traveling partner.
There was some confusion for the duo of Codys as they entered rodeos. Cody DeMers competed in bareback riding and saddle bronc riding. Cody Wright was the planner and did all the entering, including putting DeMers in the bareback riding.
Their first year of traveling together and trying to make the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was in 2002. They both came close with Demers finishing 17th in the bareback and Wright finishing 16th. The next year they both qualified and had three consecutive qualifications together.
“I owe so much of my success to Cody,” DeMers said. “He made plans and set goals. He was the businessman and when he got a goal in his mind, there was not much that was going to step in the way of that goal.
“Things were different then. There wasn’t a rodeo that we didn’t want to go to,” he added. “We went to as many as we could and got on everything. And while we were off rodeoing, ShaRee held the fort down so Cody could go.”
In the summers, when they could get back to Milford every few days, they often hauled one, two and sometimes even three of Cody’s boys with them. When Cody DeMers started concentration on bareback riding and Cody Wright’s brothers started going, their traveling partnership changed, but the friendship they developed is one that will stand the test of time.
“Cody is my best friend in the world,” DeMers added. “And there’s not a bigger Wright fan in the world than I am.”
Thirteen NFR qualifications and two gold buckles later, Cody Wright is still in the thick of things, but now he is traveling with two and sometimes three of his sons and switching out with brothers to accommodate schedules.
He made history in 2016 when he qualified for the NFR along with his two oldest sons Rusty and Ryder. It was Rusty’s second trip to Vegas and Ryder’s first. In 2017, Rusty broke his leg in August at the Kitsap County Stampede in Bremerton, Washington. He finished the year in 22nd and was a spectator at the NFR watching his younger brother win a world title.
“I think watching Ryder has helped Rusty this year,” Cody said. “You always wonder if you can do it (win a world title). They’ve been the same places, rode the same horses and beat the same people. I think Ryder winning showed Rusty that he can too.”
Half-way through the rodeo year, but with lots of great rodeos yet to go, there are six Wrights in the top 35 of the PRCA world standings. Rusty is at the top of the list and Ryder isn’t far behind. Cody is in the mix along with his brothers Jake, Jesse and Spencer. Between the six of them, they have 32 NFR qualifications and 4 gold buckles.
And, it all started with Cody.