Cowboy Tales From The Rodeo: The "Fullest Life," But You're Not Going To Get Rich

Calf roper Brad GoodrichEXPAND
Calf roper Brad Goodrich

Rodeo cowboys basically live on the road, traveling with men and women crazy enough to ride, rope and wrestle live animals for a paycheck. Each day, Hair Balls is asking a different cowboy to tell us a little bit about himself and his wildest story from a life of rodeo.

Name: Brad Goodrich
Age: 42
Hometown: Stanfield, Oregon
Event: Tie-down roping

I got into rodeo because my dad used to rope. I started roping when I was a little kid, roping dogs and stuff. It's all I ever wanted to do. I grew up on a small farm, and my first actual rodeo was when I was 11 years old, and it was in Ellensburg, Washington. I did break-away roping and goat tying. The [Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association] won't let you buy your card until you're 18, but I had a PRCA permit when I was 16. I was going to rodeos and making money when I was 14. I rode a couple broncs in junior rodeo and high school, but roping is pretty much all I ever wanted to do.

I'll quit rodeo the day I die. I love roping calves and I love competing, so I'm going to try to rope forever, in whatever capacity I can. I'm about to the end of my full-time career. I got a rope company that I've developed over the last ten years, and I buy, sell and train roping horses. But there's always a rodeo to go to. The next year or two, I might not qualify for Houston, but I can go rodeo around the northwest. When I'm 60, I can do senior rodeo. I've torn up both my knees, and I don't have any ACL's, and I have rotator cuff problems, but I'm going to rodeo as long as I can walk.

I'm on the road a lot. This is my first year not doing it full time. Houston is just the second rodeo I've been to this year. I came to San Antonio and Houston because they're the two biggest rodeos of the year. But I'll still probably go to 70 or 80 rodeos, but it will be a different 70 or 80 rodeos than I've done in the past. When I was rodeoing hard, I'd just go to as many places I could get to with my horse and not injure or wear out either one of us. I've been with guys who don't get along, and you just have to tough it out. It usually doesn't last more than a week. I sure like being home, but it doesn't bother me to head out and drive two days to a rodeo.

The best thing that's happened to me is winning the Pendleton Round-Up. Making the National Finals Rodeo is any rodeo cowboy's goal, and I've been fortunate enough to make it six times, and Houston is a great rodeo, pays a lot of money, but a personal highlight is winning Pendleton. To me, it's the epitome of rodeo. They still do it like they did 100 years ago. They rope on grass, and there's no actual chute, so it's more true, grass-roots rodeo.

The craziest thing that's happened was one week when we were going to work a rodeo in Tunica, Mississippi. I got on four different planes. We started out in Sisters, Oregon, and we flew to Las Vegas and roped there, then we flew to Dallas to swap planes. We were supposed to fly into Memphis, but that flight got canceled, and we managed to get a flight into Little Rock. The flight was delayed, so we charted a plane to Tunica, and took a shuttle straight to the rodeo. We got there five minutes after they turned us out and we never got to compete. So we turned around and flew home.

The best advice I could give is try to learn from the best. I didn't have a lot of money backing when I started, so I had to work hard for everything I have. There's no better lifestyle than rodeo, but you will not get rich doing it. If you go into it with your eyes open, you'll live probably the fullest life that anybody can live, but you're sure not going to die rich.


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