Clay O’Brien Cooper: Ringing in the New Year with the GOAT.
Clay O'Brien Cooper's 2019 Pro Rodeo plan with Trevor Brazile.

First of all, Happy New Year! As of press time for this issue, my 2019 plans are still not set in stone. For now, I’m just planning to go to three rodeos with Trevor Brazile, who is not planning on rodeoing full time for the first time this year. Everybody else is partnered up to go to everything, and we’re on the same page.

Our plan is to go to Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Houston. For the time being, I don’t have any other plans, and I’m just going at things one day at a time. I may go to a few of the spring rodeos, but I haven’t even gotten that far yet in the planning process.

I roped with Trevor for a few years as second partners, mostly at the bigger ropings that were enter twice. Trevor is unique for the fact that he has a strategic pattern that has allowed him to win a lot in every event, and team roping is no exception. He’s always mounted good, he scores good, he rides good position, and probably the best thing he’s done is handle steers better than anybody over his heading career. He has a natural and strategic way of setting a steer up, and it’s the same every single time.

Trevor’s intelligence level—the excellence and that special strength he has—shows up in every event. His scoring, the way he runs to the spot and sets steers up, and bam—Trevor quarterbacks a very consistent, fast run.

I went home after Cheyenne last summer, and just went to a few rodeos here and there. Since then, I’ve mostly been home, riding a young horse I got from Zane and Britt Williams, and hanging out with (Clay’s wife) Alisa. I’ve had some offers, but I don’t really want to commit to a 24-7-52-week-a-year schedule that most of the guys making the offers want.

I’ve kind of been spoiled the last few years. I’ve rodeoed the way I’ve wanted to—gone out the way I wanted to, and come home the way I wanted to. And I was able to have some good years doing that. I went just enough last year to qualify for the good rodeos this winter. So who knows? I’ll go down there (to Texas), and have one of the best partners there is. Then I can rodeo in California in the spring, which is fun for me, because I’m pretty close to home. I can see what my options might be then for who I can rope with from Reno to Cheyenne, and what I feel like doing at that time.

Several guys made the Finals in the stretch between Reno and Cheyenne in 2018. If you do good with the right guy, you can make the Finals in six weeks right there. So I’m content to just kind of play the odds that way, and have more balanced time at home.

Who knows how much rodeo life I have left in me. I’m not done. I’ll decide I’m done when the time comes. Part of my decision will depend on whether or not they restructure things that still allow me to go to the rodeos I want to go to.

From top to bottom, the competition is a lot tougher than ever before. There are 30 or more teams out there that are quality, good teams trying to get to the Finals. So it makes it a little harder to do it the way I do it now. In most cases, a guy has to go non-stop to make it. But I did see (Aaron) Tsingine and (Trey) Yates, and Derrick (Begay) and Cory (Petska) kill ’em last summer, and make it.

Tsinigine pretty much went home after Cheyenne. Begay and Cory didn’t have to go that much after that, either. It is still doable to do it the way I’m wanting to now, if you do well at the right places. I did it the other way for 30 years. The fact is, I’ve been there enough. I’ve run 290 steers at the Finals. If I go back, great. If not, that’s OK, too. At this stage in my life, I want to make time to enjoy my family, my friends, and my place.

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