story by Julie Carter Cowboying at the ranch comes natural for Trip Saulsberry, but the arena part of the job didn’t start until he was […]
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Meet the Member Cooper Wood
story by Lindsay King
It was on the back of a five-year-old mare that Cooper Wood hand-picked himself that he roped his way to a state championship and a trip to nationals. “My grandpa and I went to a horse sale Clovis to look for a horse and I told him we needed to look at this one, but he didn’t like that she was a mare. I went back and took some videos of her and he ended up liking her too,” said the 13-year-old from Bloomfield, New Mexico. “The first day I stepped on Lucie I could just feel us click. She has helped me get me where I am today.” A pulled ligament kept the mare home from nationals. “I was pretty bummed about that, but she got me to nationals. I was so happy the first day I finally got to ride her again back in July.” Lucie came from Rabbit Ear Remuda Ranch in Clayton which is where is mom is originally from.
Cooper ended up using his 18-year-old brother’s head horse for his breakaway run at nationals. Riding Quinten’s horse wasn’t what Cooper had in mind, but he soaked up the entire experience regardless. “I was very excited to go to nationals for the first time. When I got there, I saw how many people were there and I got really nervous.” The same type of thing happened at state finals, but Cooper just told himself to go out there and do what he knew how to do: rope. “I came into state sitting sixth and I just had a really consistent rodeo. I didn’t worry about anything. I ended up splitting first with Tylon Tsosie in the breakaway.” His other events – ribbon and team roping – didn’t go quite as planned though. “I missed for my header and then he missed for me. My ribbon runner was good and we ended up fifth. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Going into his eighth-grade season, Cooper is taking what he learned at his first nationals and putting it to good use. “Nationals taught me a lot because there was a lot of noise – announcers were talking about another event while mine was going on and the announcers for my event were also talking. I am ready to go back and be ready for it next year.” Just go out and rope is the philosophy Cooper is sticking to in his final NMJHSRA season. He is looking forward to shooting clays in rodeo when he finally hits high school. For now, he is shooting through 4-H.
Attending Walt Woodard’s team roping school proved instrumental in stepping up Cooper’s heeling game. However, he’s learned a majority of his skills from his dad, Daniel, and his grandpa. “They always have me mounted well and help me. They keep me going down the road. No matter what, they are always there to love and support me. When I am doing something wrong we go to the practice pen and work on it.” Coopers mom, Cristie, helps him in every way possible. “She is always there supporting and encouraging me. She always tells me that if I put my mind to it, I can do it.” Cooper isn’t exactly tall for his age, so he heeds this advice regularly in rodeo and school sports.
At Mesa Alta Junior High School, Cooper plays basketball and wrestles. The latter keeps him in the best shape for rodeo. “We are always moving and working. Wrestling is a bit harder because everyone is taller than me, but that makes it easier for me to get off my horse and get to my calf.” Learning to step off a horse in the middle of a sliding stop proved to be the toughest aspect of the event for Cooper to master. “It is nerve racking to get off a moving horse. My grandpa and dad helped me figure it out.” As Cooper prepared for nationals, he quickly realized how blessed he was to rodeo in New Mexico. “The NMJHSRA has a lot of good sponsors that make it such a great program. I really enjoy rodeoing in New Mexico.”