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Jake Cooper Adds Raising Horses to His Roping Repertoire
Jake Cooper's goal is good looking, good-minded, athletic horses.
Jake Cooper riding stallion Reys of Pep.
Stallion Reys of Pep is the anchor of Jake Cooper’s budding horse program. | Elite Equine promotions photo

Jake Cooper is a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo header who knows all about the astronomical advantage of high-end horsepower. Cooper—who headed for his twin brother, Jim Ross, at Rodeo’s Super Bowl in 2007, Russell Cardoza at NFR 2015 and Caleb Anderson in 2019—has decided to expand his horse horizons with his own rope-horse breeding program. It started with the purchase of a standout stud from Colby Lovell, and Cooper’s since been busy buying special mares for the foundation on the bottom side of his horse herd.

“I’ve always been a planner,” said Cooper, who’s this year roping with rookie Chase Graves, who’s the son of NFR header Frank Graves. “I know my rodeo career will eventually slow down, and I thought it would be neat and also a good business decision to have a cool stud with all these new incentives going on.

“Last year, I bought Colby Lovell’s stud Reys Of Pep (who with Lovell, Kaleb Driggers and Kollin VonAhn won over $114,000 during his futurity years, which finished up in 2023). We call him Pepper, and he’s 7 now. I like that he was big enough that they headed and heeled on him, and did well at both ends. He’s just the perfect size—plenty big enough to head on, and also quick enough to where you can heel on him.”

Reys of Pep papers.

Pepper’s a stout 15 hands, and 1,300 pounds.

“He’s the reason I started this,” said Cooper, who lives in today’s Cowboy Capital of the World in Stephenville, Texas. “I thought if I could get Pepper, and a few proven mares who’ve been won on, I could start my own breeding program.”

READ: Jake Cooper Adds Record-Setting Futurity Stud Reys Of Pep to His Program

Cooper had some unexpected extra time to launch his horse business after a head horse fell on him in March 2023 and tore his hamstring. He returned to rope at Reno in June, but headed straight home after realizing it wasn’t enough time to rehab the ailment that now plagues reigning World Champion All-Around Cowboy Stetson Wright.

Cooper’s plan is to hit it hard with Graves this year.

“I still have a lot of rodeo goals for the next few years,” Cooper said. “I would like to go back to the NFR, for sure. I love roping, and still enjoy all of it.”

But the rodeo road ends for everyone, and a rodeo royal like Cooper knows that as well as anyone.

“I’d like to someday build this horse deal to where I have seven to 10 babies a year, and sell a few, keep a couple and have some to send to guys,” he said. “I’d like for guys like Lovell and Driggers to ride some of them. And when you do get that special one, the plan would be to keep him until you can’t afford not to, when selling that special one is a business decision.”

@teamropingjournal Jake Cooper has been collecting some of roping’s best mares to breed to his stud, @ReysOfPep. What’s he got going in his horse program? Kendra Santos dropped a story over at teamropingjournal.com that’s worth the read. #teamroping #rodeo #cowboys #horses #headhorses #ropehorsesoftiktok ♬ She Knows It – Steven Rodriguez

Small and steady is how he’s started, with quality trumping quantity. Cooper has a few yearlings now that hit the ground last year, and has bought embryos out of some special rodeo mares that will remain anonymous for now.

“Ideally with this stud—who’s cow bred, has enough speed to head on and I actually have aspirations to ride at the rodeos next year, if I can get him seasoned—the goal is to raise good looking, good-minded, athletic horses that’ll be good for whatever people want to do with them,” Jake said. “Just because you have the perfect breeding doesn’t automatically make a certain horse only for a certain event.

READ: Driggers, Cooper Partner on Winningest Rope Horse Mare Fine Vintage Cash

“Our goal is to make good horses that are great athletes you can ride at the top level. We’re trying to breed horses that are a pleasure to be around, and fun for ropers at every level to rope on. I’d love to breed some horses that are plenty good enough to go down the road on and help guys win.”

Cooper’s bought a few cow-bred and rope-horse mares to cross with Pepper, in addition to outside breedings. As of now, he kind of has what he considers his “big four.”

Fine Vintage Cash was a January 2024 purchase by Cooper and Driggers of the all-time winningest futurity mare from California’s Monty and Chris Avery. “Crystal,” who’s 8 now and made her mark at the futurities as a heel horse, was trained and shown by the Averys’ son-in-law, Andy Holcomb.

Colby Lovell winning the RFA on "Pepper" in 2023.
Colby Lovell winning the RFA on “Pepper” in 2023. | Shelby Lynn photo

Runnin In Stilettos is a 12-year-old bay mare Cooper bought from Driggers, after Kaleb bought “Stiletto” from Garrett Tonozzi. Cooper categorizes her as “a great head horse.”

Redwood Calli is the 11-year-old black mare Matt Sherwood’s ridden at the BFI and Clint Summers jackpotted on some about a year ago. Cooper bought “Serena” from Driggers. Jake rode her at Denver and Odessa earlier this year, and says, “She’s really cool and pretty.”

Katylynsfirstjewel is a 10-year-old bay mare Cooper calls “Ruby.” At press time in late February, he’d already ridden and placed on her at Rapid City and San Antonio.

“So many guys rope good anymore,” Cooper said. “Team roping in general is not a super athletic event. Everybody has the ability to swing a rope and throw it. What sets people apart is their horsepower. That’s why you see a guy have an average year, then a great year. He didn’t start roping that much better, it’s usually because he either got a better horse or a horse that fit him better.

“Several breakaway ropers have also bred to my stud, because he’s fast, he’s good-minded and he’s double cow-bred, so he’s got that big stop they’re looking for. Team ropers, calf ropers and breakaway ropers—everybody likes Pepper’s size and disposition.”

Raising horses is basically diversifying Cooper’s roping portfolio.

“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “I’ve always loved good horses, and I’m having fun turning it into a business. There’s more talk about horse papers among team ropers and all rodeo contestants than ever before. It’s all changing, evolving and moving forward, and the horses are just going to keep progressing. That’s what I’m banking on, anyway.”

Reys Of Pep stands at Millsap, Texas’s 113 Equine, with contracts available at reysofpep.com.

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