From eight to six — as the saddle bronc riding Wright family continues the summer rodeo run, each of their two rigs is without a traveling member
For most of the season, Cody has been traveling with his oldest sons, Rusty and Ryder. Cody’s brother Spencer has rounded out the crew. The other rig has had three other brothers, Jake, Jesse and Alex along with their brother-in-law CoBurn Bradshaw who is married to their sister, Rebecca.
Jesse went home early during “Cowboy Christmas.” He broke his collarbone on June 29th at the Ponoka (Alberta) Stampede after coming off Calgary Stampede’s horse, Urgent Delivery. He had surgery July 3rd and could be out up to six weeks.
Disaster struck for Cody in Moab, Utah, on June first. It was a rodeo just four hours away from their home in Milford and would get them circuit points, so going was a “no-brainer.” The horse that Cody got on, Bar T Rodeo’s Mystery Gal, started strong, then lost her footing.
The other members of the group were watching as the horse stumbled. Her head went in the dirt and she did a somersault. Cody was on the ground underneath of her. The horse got up and trotted away, Cody did not.
“It was scary,” Rusty said. “I got to him and was holding his head out of the dirt while he was catching his breath. He wanted to get up but kept telling me that he couldn’t move his leg. I was thinking the worst.”
Turns out, one of the attending emergency personnel was standing on Cody’s chaps. When Rusty saw that, he took action. Cody was able to walk out of the arena with some help. And, while nothing was broken, he did have some strained ligaments and muscles and one huge hematoma across his lower back. That took care of the month of June and most of July for Cody who isn’t sure when he will be back.
“He always tells us, ‘It’s hard enough to beat them when you are healthy,’ it’s just that much harder when you are hurt,” Rusty said. “As much as we miss him, we don’t want him back until he’s ready.”
Cody spent the Fourth of July at home in Milford for the first time that he or his wife ShaRee could remember. They took in their community celebration with other family members that were also at home. Many of those in the tightly-knit area couldn’t help but notice that Cody was home and participating in their events rather than chasing white lines on a highway.
Even though Cody isn’t in the truck with his sons and brother, he still does all the entering for the rig. Alex enters the other group and missed the books for the Cody (Wyoming) Stampede over the Fourth of July. That was a missed opportunity for Jake and Jesse who have won the rodeo the past two years.
With Jesse on the sidelines, he wouldn’t have been able to compete there anyway. So, this year Rusty was more than happy to claim the title and keep it in the family for three year’s running.
Rusty rode Frontier Rodeo’s Maple Leaf for 89 points to win the 99th annual event. That netted him $8,686 for his eight-second ride and pushed his season earnings over $80,000 so far. He is the highest of the Wright clan in the PRCA World Standings at fourth after the lucrative Fourth of July rodeo run.
It’s a time of year that rodeo contestants love or hate. The constant time in a truck just for a snippet of action and competition can take its toll. Rusty and the Wrights seem to be among those who crave the opportunity to get on multiple bucking horses in one day.
Before he got to Cody, he along with Ryder and Spencer had been at Red Lodge, Montana. Once again, Rusty was the most successful of the trio finishing in a tie for 8th place with an 83-point marking. As soon as they were done riding there, they jumped in the truck and made the 63-mile trip to Cody and arrived just as the grand entry was finishing, plenty of time to get ready for the saddle bronc riding.
“I love being in a hurry and getting on a couple times a day,” Rusty said of the busy summer run. “When you are getting on literally every single day, you start riding better. You’re not really doing anything different, but stuff starts clicking and your riding good, then just get better.”
The downside of the summer, and rodeo for that matter for Rusty is the traveling. “I’m not a fan of the traveling. I never have been. But, you have to travel to get on two bucking horses a day. It’s just part of it,” he added.
Just like they developed a system for winning in the arena, the Wrights also have worked out a system for getting to rodeos. Rusty drives at night, Ryder has the dayshift and Spencer fills in as needed.
“I miss a lot of the cool scenery,” Rusty said. “But when that sun comes up in the morning I’m ready to sleep. If I try to drive during the day, I get sleepy. Ryder is just the opposite. If I don’t drive at night, you won’t get any driving out of me.”
Before they take off for the summer rodeos, the family takes advantage of every opportunity to do things together, including work. The Wright branding is an annual affair that they all look forward to. They have three crews going and manage to get a lot of work done in a hurry. Rusty spends most of his time on a saddle horse roping calves and bringing them to one of the crews. Jake and Spencer are usually the ones doing the actual branding.
They also found time for a family trip to the zoo and did a little fishing before the rodeo rigs left Utah. Family time has become even more important to Rusty. He and his wife, Morgan, have a son, Rookie, and added a daughter, Memphis, last March to their growing family.
In May, The Last Cowboys, A Pioneer Family in the New West, a book about the Wright family was released. The author, John Branch, chronicles their ranching and rodeoing lives. Rusty hasn’t read it but plans to listen to it while driving this summer. The book is generating interest. They’ve been asked for a few autographs and had messages in social media have been about future documentaries and more opportunities.“They couldn’t keep up with us,” Rusty said of a documentary.
While the Wright family is very generous in sharing their stories, these humble cowboys just love what they do and work very hard at it. Rusty is still leader of the pack in the PRCA world standings at fourth. CoBurn is seventh and Ryder is ninth. Jake and Spencer are inside the top 20.