story by Lori O’Harver GLEN ROSE, Texas – “We’re thrilled to have the bronc riders back in town, but honestly? It’s the TBRA lady ranch […]
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Meet the Members: National Ross Champion & Cody Mizell
story by Lori O’Harver
Bareback and bronc riders bet their ability to match the bronc’s moves and be on top when the stopwatch says 8. Whether it works well or goes terribly wrong, the pickup man is his backup plan.
Texas Bronc Riders Association President Daryl McElroy paid close attention to the available talent when he was choosing the men who would protect the lives of TBRA. Building a first class organization that promotes the quality of the culture is no overnight job. Champion and Mizell are assets to the cause.
National Ross Champion lives up to his name every day. He doesn’t remember a time in his 25 years that wasn’t spent horseback. At 12, he joined Champion Rodeo Company pickup men Darryl Copeland and D.C. Turner to apprentice in the art. At 16, he was one of the team.
Cody Mizell is National Champion’s cousin. He joined the Champion Rodeo Company team as a pickup man in 2011. At 33, he and Champion work together catching wild or loose livestock in Leon County, Texas. GAC built their successful reality show called ‘Highway Cowboys’ around what these men do all in a day’s work.
Their history together is a part of the synergy they bring to their jobs as pickup men. It isn’t just knowing where to be at the right time. It’s knowing where your partner will be, where the bucking horse and rider will be, what that bucking horse will do and being able to depend on the horse under you to be thinking and moving along with the dangerous drama that unfolds fast. ‘Thinking on your feet’ is a process that’s way too slow. Instinctive reaction without wasting the time to think is critical.
“I’m proud of the TBRA for their work to strengthen the foundation of bronc riding in Texas,” said Champion. Champion prefers riding horses he’s started because he builds them to be less dependent on his hands and in fine tune to his legs and weight shifts. Mizell likes to start with a finished ranch-type horse with lots of handle. Together, they have a team of 12 horses that they depend on every day then go under the arena lights when it’s rodeo time.
“My favorite part of the job is knowing I’m helping these guys out,” Mizell said. “I rode up on a bareback riding hang up recently that had the hallmarks of going bad fast. I ran my hand through the rider’s vest and set him back on the horse. His parents found me later and thanked me for saving their son. That’s what it’s all about.”