Cashing in on the California Circuit with Preston Burgess
Preston Burgess is climbing his way to the top of the 2024 California Circuit standings with eight-time NFR heeler Cody Cowden.
Preston Burgess turning a steer for Cody Cowden at the 2024 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo.
Preston Burgess and Cody Cowden took home the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo win June 2, 2024, to climb in the California Circuit standings. | Fernando Sam Sin photo

Preston Burgess is a 25-year-old California header that’s climbing his way to the top of the 2024 California Circuit standings. The Hilmar, California, kid is paired up with eight-time NFR heeler Cody Cowden, and they’ve recently jumped to fifth and third in the California Circuit standings with $10,663.48 and $11,583.50 won on the year. The standings movement comes after winning the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo May 30-June 2, for a total of $4,731 a man and finishing fifth at the Livermore Rodeo June 8-9, for $1,987 a man. Get to know Burgess.

Listen to Preston Burgess on The Short Score.

The Team Roping Journal: You grew up roping, with your family hosting jackpots at their arena, Lucky B Acres, but you had another passion as a kid, didn’t you?

Preston Burgess: I got into rodeoing because I wasn’t fast enough on a dirt bike. I didn’t get into roping until I was probably about 10 years old. I didn’t really take it serious until about then. 

TRJ: You still grew up with a rope in your hand, though, with your family hosting jackpots at their arena, Lucky B Acres. What was that like?

PB: I did have a lot of roping at a young age. There was no getting around roping. It was a great opportunity. That’s the nicest part, I think, about it is just how lucky we are to get to do it.

TRJ: You’re paired up with eight-time NFR heeler Cody Cowden. You’ve known him nearly your entire life, but how did this partnership come about?

PB: We’ve roped together a lot throughout my life, but he had his own partner for a little while and I kind of had my own partner. Then we decided that we wanted to try it out. We just got back into it and finally started winning and now it’s starting to get fun.

Roping with Cody is pretty fun. For the most part, we try to keep it fun, but he takes it serious of course. It’s what he’s done. He’s done it longer than I’ve been alive at a professional level. So he takes it really seriously.

TRJ: You and Cody may not be leading the circuit, but you guys have done some major climbing in the standings after winning Santa Maria and placing in Livermore. What has the last month looked like to make that jump to fifth and third?

PB: It was pretty slow at the beginning of the year. We tried to do a few things different, and it wasn’t really going our way. And then all of a sudden, we kind of just told ourselves that we dug a hole, and it’s time to dig ourselves out. I just think we’ve been drawing some good steers the last couple of rodeos we’ve gone to, and it’s just kind of worked out. 

Winning Santa Maria, it was exciting. I was kind of going in there with the mindset of just turning two steers and just seeing where we placed, but Cody cleaned them up quick and we ended up winning it. 

TRJ: You’ve stayed on the California Circuit front since buying your PRCA card. Why is that?

PB: I just don’t think I have the horsepower to go and go to 80 to 100 rodeos in a year and then jackpot on the way to the other rodeo. I think more than anything, if it’s something that’s going to happen, I think I just have to wait until the opportunity presents itself, then I’ll go ahead. I feel like over here with my one horse, I could stay at these rodeos and he’s still pretty user-friendly at those. Once we get out there and start entering jackpots, five entries deep, and then going to a rodeo the next day, it kind of gets tough on your one good horse.

TRJ: What are your main circuit goals, this year and long-term?

PB: I’m probably just stay out in California. Try and pick the good rodeos to go to, maybe a couple of CCPRA rodeos (California Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association). But we’re just going to stay out here. The circuit goals, though, are just to keep chipping away at it. Hopefully we keep drawing good steers and making good runs, and then we’ll see where we end up towards the end of this year. 

TRJ: What does your horse herd look like?

PB: I just have my same red horse right now that I’ve been riding since the high school rodeo days. He’s been pretty good to me. He still scores good, and he doesn’t take my head rope away from me yet, so he gets to call more times than not. I think he turns 20 this year, he’s got some age on him. 

When I was I think 5 or 6 years old, [a man] out of Gustine (California) was moving to Oregon, and he had a couple broodmares and some ranch horses. My dad bought the broodmare with my gray horse on her side and my red horse that I’m riding now in her belly. Then we just rode him around and started making runs on him. Blaine Lockett roped on him a little bit when I was younger, and then right about the time we got him going to where they were dialed in, I started taking him to jackpots. The rest is history after that.

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