Wright brothers still buckin' together
Imagine spending half the year traversing the country in a vehicle with three of your brothers.
Welcome to the life of the saddle bronc riding Wright brothers of Milford, Utah.
Today, the brothers will pile in their car once again and drive from Great Falls, Mont., to Sentinel Butte for an event two of them have had a lot of luck at in recent years: the 55th annual Champions Ride Saddle Bronc Match, which is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.
It's a rodeo Cody Wright said he and his brothers -- 24-year-old Alex Wright and 22-year-old twin Jake and Jesse Wright -- hope they never miss.
"There's a lot of great old bronc riders there," Wright said. "It's fairly inspiring to ride for good money with good horses and good competition."
Cody Wright, 34 years old and the eldest of 13 children, may not always sit in the driver's seat during he and his brothers' travels.
But that's sure where he is in the world of saddle bronc riding.
The defending world champion and this season's top-ranked saddle bronc rider, Cody Wright knows what it feels like to be a Champions Ride, well, champion. He won the event in 2006 and 2008.
He said the level of competition at the Champions Ride brings out the best in him, as well as bronc riders.
"A guy usually steps up to the plate when you get a bunch of good cowboys there and you know you've got to make a good ride to win," Cody Wright said. "It seems like it's either money or mud in most cases."
At last year's Champions Ride, Cody Wright took a backseat to his brother Jesse.
Jesse Wright won last year's short round with a career-best 92-point ride but came in second in the average to Wade Sundell of Boxholm, Iowa, by three points.
"I was happy to get in it and it's been better every year," Jesse Wright said. "It's a heck of a rodeo."
Coming into the weekend, Cody Wright leads the world standings with $95,958 in yearly earnings. Jesse Wright is in fifth with $48,647. On the outside looking in is Jake Wright, who is at $32,021 and sits 16th in the standings -- one spot out of the critical top 15 cutoff line to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo.
"I'm not happy where I'm at," Jake Wright said with an ornery tone in his voice. "I want to be way higher than where I'm at right now. I'm going to make a big run, and hopefully that works out good. I don't want to be on the border. I don't want to be sweating at the end. I just want to relax and know I made it."
Alex Wright has been the least fortunate of the four this season with just $18,399 in earnings. He is in 30th place in the world standings.
Still, he keeps an upbeat attitude, saying anything can happen with two months left in the regular season.
"I just pretty much try to listen and do my best every time and hope it works out," Alex Wright said. "You just try not to get down on yourself and keep trying to get that spot down there."
While money earned at the Champions Ride doesn't count toward the PRCA's season standings, the Wright brothers all said winning or placing there puts a good chuck of cash in the pocket.
That, combined with a murderer's row lineup of bucking broncs, make for an entertaining afternoon.
"Them horses buck good, and in the short round, heck, it's a ridin' contest in the short round," Jesse Wright said.