Editor’s Note: We found out about 10-Time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Daniel Green’s return to full-time competition with Cody Cowden. Below is the conversation.
SWR:I just got word that after four years of rodeo retirement you’ve decided to come back to full-time competition. Why?
Green: No work out here [Oakdale, Calif.] in construction. I tried to hook up with everybody I could in construction and there’s just no work out here right now. I thought, well, I’ve got no work out here in July for 30 days. I can go rodeo for 30 days and see what happens. If it goes good, I’ll keep going, if it doesn’t, I’ll come home and then really have to figure out what to do.
SWR: That’s an interesting commentary on our economy and the sport that rodeo is a better option to make a living than a family construction business.
Green: I have yet to make a living rodeoing, I’ve got it to do, but the possibility looks better. So that’s what it says about the economy. I’ve got a chance to make more money rodeoing than staying at home-even with fuel prices. I just have to compare the chance to win something over the Fourth of July and Cheyenne and Salinas to sitting home and doing nothing. I can use my God-given talent and the thing that I’ve worked at more than anything else in my life and try to go win some money.
SWR: You’ve always said the reason you gave up full-time rodeo was to spend more time with your family. Will they be able to go with you?
Green: My family won’t go with me. They used to never go with me in July, anyway. I would usually pick them up after Salinas and then they’d go with me. My daughter, she’s on the traveling softball team, this weekend I entered around in the rodeos so I could go watch her in her tournament. I’m going to miss a lot of the tournament, but I’m trying to be there the best I can. I really want to watch them grow up as much as I can and be part of it.
SWR: How hard was this decision to make? Is it a permanent career change?
Green: I’ve got no long-term rodeo plans right now. I’m just looking around and work’s been real slow, haven’t had any work and the only money I’ve earned has been at the rodeos out here.
My wife works a little bit part time in the hospital as needed and as available. It’s slow. My dad’s construction company hasn’t had much going for a while now. Lately all the rodeos have been out here [in California] so I was busy rodeoing and it wasn’t near as big a deal. Now the rodeos have slowed down, but there’s still not much going on. There are a ton of people in construction that aren’t doing anything right now. One big contractor who lives here in Oakdale said he hasn’t gotten a new home contract in two years. We got some new home contracts last year, but we’ve already got those houses built. Everybody quit building and the housing market quit selling. When that goes down, a ton of people go out of work: cement contractors, plumbers, electricians, framers, roofers, tile guys, sheetrock guys. There are a ton of people that it takes to build houses and they’re all out of work right now.
Honestly, I haven’t been sitting here craving taking off from my family. But I’ve always known and I’ve always said that if I have to go back I could. I feel like I’m still real able to go rope and win. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m forced into this and I have a bad attitude about it, because I don’t’ have a bad attitude about it. I’ve got to do what has to be done. When you sit down in my situation and the opportunities I have: stay home or go to rodeos, going to rodeos looks better right now. I’ve committed to Cody [Cowden] through Cheyenne and we’ll reevaluate everything after that and see if I’m able to keep going or if it’s better for me and my family to go home. That’s what I told Cody and he’s fine with that.
It’s what I’m most qualified to do and my wife [Shawnda] understands. She knows I’ll try to be around as much as I can, but I’ll have to do what I’ll have to do. Like I said, this is a 30-day commitment that I’ve made.
SWR: How much did your great spring (winning the Cow Palace in San Francisco and the Red Bluff (Calif.) Round Up) play into your decision to come back?
Green: Not much. My winning out here in California didn’t have anything to do with my decision. If I had work out here, I’d be here. That’s the long and the short of it. I enjoy getting to compete out here, but when the rodeos are over and everybody goes home, I’ve usually got work to do. The desire is still to be with my family. There’s just not much to do here now.
SWR: How about your horse situation. You told us after winning Red Bluff that your roan mare, Marabell, lets you win. Describe what you expect from her.
Green: She’s a nice horse. Roping against the best in the world takes a special horse. I can tell she gets a little bit more nervous. She’s doing good-she’s done good everywhere I’ve taken her-but I can tell she’s stressed a little bit. She scores good, she runs enough, she does everything good and nothing bad. I don’t know if you saw her somewhere, you’d say “Wow, that horse stands out” but she does everything good enough and she’ll let you win. She’s easy to rope on. She stays out of your way. She won’t impress you the way, say Charles Pogue’s old gray horse did, but she’s a good solid, well-rounded horse. She gives me confidence and at the rodeos it’s been easy so far. It hasn’t been hard for me to get out, it hasn’t been hard for me to catch and it hasn’t been hard for me to stop the clock fast so that gives me confidence.
SWR: How about the partner choice. I’ll bet at least half the heelers going would drop their partner for the chance to rope with you. Why did you choose Cody Cowden?
Green: I really like roping with Todd Hampton, but his job requires him to be home. Just like in Red Bluff, he had to stay home and take care of stuff at work. Cody was out of a partner and he and I roped as second partners out here at the U.S. ropings and the jackpots around and stuff. It’s pretty natural. We’ve roped together a lot here the last few years. He’s helped me at the World’s Greatest Roper and the Timed Event so we’ve got some chemistry there and know what to expect from each other. Since Todd couldn’t go and Cody was there without a partner just 25 miles or so away from me, that’s the first guy you think of.
SWR: What are the practice sessions like preparing for the summer run?
Green: Practice has been going all right. I’m trying to get things sped up and get my horses prepared for all the big money. You try to ride them maybe not as hard but more often and keep them on an even keel. Then you’re trying to prepare yourself. If you’re not sharp you’re trying to get sharp. By the time you get to Reno you’ve got to be sharp. That’s when the big money’s up and the Fourth of July starts.
SWR: So what would be the ideal summer rodeo run for you?
Green: Ideal would be to go dominate in July. I think I’m about $9,000 or $10,000 out of the top 15 right now. I’ve got about 36 tour points which might make the first tour stop, I’m not sure. If I have a really good Reno and Fourth of July and a good Cheyenne and Salinas and be caught up to everybody. Then after July there’s two months until the season ends. Then continue for two more months, and then go to the National Finals. Get all clean-shaven and on TV with my family in the stands. I love that. That would be awesome.
We’ll look up after July and see what it looks like then. Being that I only rodeoed around home this spring, I’m not that far back, so that’s a bonus. But believe me, if I had no money won right now, I’d make the same decision. Things in construction could change by July, but if I’m going to get a good partner and have a chance, I have to commit to that right now.
SWR: Well, it makes for a great story, thanks for sharing it with us and best of luck.
Green: Maybe I’ll be Cinderella this year. Who knows?