Two-time WNFR header Spencer Mitchell and seven-time world champion heeler Clay O’Brien Cooper will begin roping together at the 2018 Oakdale (California) Rodeo.
Cooper, of Gardnerville, Nevada, roped with Derrick Begay since 2015 and finished third in the world that year, followed by a second-place finish in the 2016 ERA standings. In 2017 Begay and Cooper won the Gooding (Idaho) ProRodeo, and Cooper won the George Strait Team Roping Classic with Aaron Tsinigine. He finished 39 in the PRCA world standings with $39.547.38 won, and is currently outside the top 50 in the world.
Mitchell made the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2011 with Broc Cresta and again in 2012 with Dakota Kirchenschlager. He didn’t rodeo much in 2017 after losing his main mount and welcoming his first son Broc with wife Whitney May 29. He and Jason Duby began the 2018 campaign at Odessa’s Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo, and Mitchell has $13,372.45 won so far to sit 24 in the PRCA world standings.
We checked in with the Champ this afternoon to talk about his new partner.
TRJ: With Spencer living in nearby California, did you get to watch him come up through the ranks as a kid?
COC: I guess I’ve known Spencer for a while. I’ve rodeoed through California for years and years, and I used to live in Arizona, so it was a go-to place in the spring and fall. I’ve known all of those kids growing up really. I’ve went through several generations at this point.
TRJ: What makes Spencer an appealing partner?
COC: Somebody has to be the aggressive part of the team. And Spencer is an aggressive-style of header. He’s got lots of range. He likes to go for first a lot. I like to rope for first myself.
TRJ: You recently bought a new horse, right?
COC: I retired LB, and I gave him to my wife to ride. So I spent the majority of the winter looking for something to replace LB. I bought this horse off of Truman Magnus. But one of the first guys to haul him was a good friend—Tee Woolman. He heeled on him at the World Series ropings and got him seasoned. So now he’s the one. I call him Maximus, and he’s 13.
TRJ: What brought about this partner change?
COC: I loved roping with Begay. He’s one of the most awesome partners I’ve ever had. And you know, him and I both struggled last year with me being on the end of my old horse. LB was sore all year. Then he wasn’t able to ride his good sorrel Swagger through the summer because he got crippled for a little while. Both of our horses just had quite a bit of age on them. They were losing a step and getting sore. It seemed like we had to draw on the good end of them to feel like we had enough horses to go get the job done. Even though you’re looking and trying to find something to replace them, it’s not easy to do. So I just figured it was a good time to maybe switch it up, and Spencer is more geographically located in a better place closer to me. We can rope all spring at the California rodeos. Begay likes to be home as much as I do, so it just seemed like maybe time to switch it up and see what happens.