Champion Cowboy Prefers Riding Bulls Instead Of Horses

“Riding horses is more dangerous than riding bulls.”

That’s not true, just about everybody argues.

One exception is Cooper Kanngiesser, a cowboy who rides horses, but given the druthers, he’ll mount a rodeo bull.

“I’ve ridden horses all of my life, and they can come unglued when one least expects it. When I get on a bull, I anticipate him to buck,” clarified Kanngiesser of Zenda in Kingman County.

He expounded: “I had a horse buck me off last month, broke my nose, put me out of commission, and I’d been riding the horse two weeks.”

However, when it comes to bulls, there’s no hesitation. “I’m a cowboy, have been since before I was born, they say. But, I’m a bull rider. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was very young and heard my dad talking about riding bulls,” Kanngiesser explained.

It was out behind the barn with his dad Mark’s coaching that Kanngiesser first crawled on, then he started collecting awards at junior rodeos throughout the state.

“I’ve never ridden broncs, and I don’t ever intend to. They scare me. A man can get hurt,” he inserted.

Attending Cunningham High School, Kanngiesser was bull riding champion for three consecutive years, 2001-03, in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association. “I went to the high finals, never won it, but was third one year,” he tallied.

Vernon, Texas, College was selected to attend on a rodeo scholarship. “I went there because it is in the toughest region of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). I wanted to ride bulls with the best cowboys,” Kanngiesser insisted.

“I competed in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association on the Vernon College team, but I got my PRCA card the day I turned 18,” Kanngiesser said. “I won some college rodeo bull ridings, but I never was a year-end champion, because I was going to the professional rodeos.”

In his rookie year, Kanngiesser was 26th in the world winning $49,546, and co-champion of the Wrangler Pro Rodeo Tour Round

After graduating with an associate degree in farm and ranch management, Kanngiesser went full steam on the rodeo circuit, qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo at Las Vegas in 2006, and finished 12th in the world with $89,793.

While there hasn’t been another National Finals qualification yet, Kanngiesser has collected many awards including four Tour Finale qualifications, highlighted by winning the National Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2007.

Admitting he hasn’t been going as hard recently, Kanngiesser won $28,572 at professional rodeos last year, 37th in the standings. Lifetime pro rodeo bull riding earnings are nearly one-third of a million dollars.

It’s not hard figuring out why Kanngiesser doesn’t get on 200 bulls annually now as he did earlier. “I got married to Kylie, in 2007, and we have a son, Talan. I rodeo closer to home,” Kanngiesser admitted.

He’s also producing bucking bulls in partnership with his dad. “Now, I get as nervous about the bulls we raise as I do before riding one,” Kanngiesser contended.

Most breeders put a mechanical dummy on bulls the first time they buck them. “I’ve been the dummy getting on young bulls we raise,” Kanngiesser insisted.

“We have Watusi, Corriente, Brangus cross cows mated to the 331 bull called Cotton, also- known-as Soldier Boy, from Jimmy Crowther. The bull’s nine, and we just retired him, but he was still bucking good,” Kanngiesser said.

With 25 producing cows, Kanngiesser usually retains several replacement heifers and sells bulls, typically long-horned-brindles, at two years. “A very high percent will buck. If a cow doesn’t produce a bucker, she’s sold,” detailed Kanngiesser, noting that a dozen bulls he’s produced are on the rodeo circuit.

Highlight is the bull, Asteroid, owned by Circle T Rodeo of Louisiana. “Asteroid was runner-up bull-of-the-year in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) last year,” said Kanngiesser, who has 250 units of the bull’s semen for in-herd use.

Looking ahead, Kanngiesser, who just turned 28, has a backhoe business and farms with his family. “When I get this business going, I hope to qualify for the National Finals again. I’m going to more PBR competitions and want to qualify for that Finals too,” Kanngiesser said.

There is a strong possibility of both, considering Kanngiesser has ridden 80 percent of the two dozen bulls mounted this year.

He was champion at the recent Flint Hills Bull Blowout in Strong City with 89 points on bull 68, Black Gold, worth $798.52.

Helping keep Kanngiesser positive are his sponsors: Logan Western Supply, Western Hauler, Cinch and McCurry Brothers Angus. “I really appreciate their support,” Kanngiesser credited.

Some say if cowboys were supposed to ride bulls, Paul Revere would have come riding a bull, and if it’d been Cooper Kanngiesser warning of the Yankees arrival, that’s sure the way it would have been.