To be a world class roper, a cowboy must rope every day.
That’s exactly what Cooper Martin of Alma has been doing in preparation for his second National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas, December 6-15.
“I’ve been to rodeos, jackpots and roping tie-down calves other days to keep in shape physically and mentally,” Martin said.
As the youngest contestant at last year’s National Finals, Martin won Round-4 and placed in several others to end up ninth in the world.
Competing in 92 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos around the country, Martin has qualified for the 2018 NFR in seventh place. He will again be the youngest cowboy in the tie-down lineup.
The 21-year-old, six-foot, 190-pound Wabaunsee County ranch native won $91,938 tying down calves during the past season.
From junior wins to being the youngest cowboy to win the United Rodeo Association in 2012, Martin has been dedicated. He spent his teenage years practicing rodeo skills.
While taking high school courses online, Martin said, “I liked to rope all day. Sometimes I’d rope and tie 100 calves a day. Other times, I might rope five or 10, and go to rodeos and roping jackpots every weekend.”
National High School Rodeo Association tie-down champion three years ago, Martin then worked on an associate’s degree from Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas. He won a reserve national calf roping title at the college finals during his freshman year.
Pressure of last year’s NFR qualification showed at the beginning of 2018 for Martin. It wasn’t until after the lucrative Fourth of July “Cowboy Christmas” run that Martin was among the Top 15.
That came because of some big wins over the holiday. Martin was victorious at the Cody, Wyoming, Stampede pocketing $10,046, and he won the St. Paul, Oregon, Rodeo, for $9,366.
Martin finished third in the average at the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, Arizona, to earn $4,532.
Those winnings moved Martin into 13th place in the world standings enhancing his outlook for a second NFR qualification.
A big paycheck late in the season at Puyallup, Washington, and several other rodeo checks settled him at seventh in the standings going into the NFR.
To be a winner requires roping ability and a top horse. Martin credits his horse Payday for much of the success at last year’s NFR and early this season.
“Payday has really worked well for me, but he was injured during the summer,” Martin said. “I was fortunate to find another horse from Reese Riemer called Waterboy.
“The 16-year-old gelding and I clicked. He is the fastest horse I have ever swung a leg over,” Martin said.
“I purchased Waterboy from Reese in mid-August and he helped me finish off my season strong,” Martin credited. “Unfortunately, Waterboy recently sustained an injury and now he’s out of commission until February, too.”
With the NFR just weeks away, Martin feels fortunate to have leased Shooter to rope on at Las Vegas from his friend Cade Swor, a seven-time NFR qualifier.
“I’ve ridden Shooter at Pendleton and have been practicing on him the past few weeks,” Martin said. “Shooter is easier to ride than some horses, so I think he’ll work well for me at the finals. I’m very grateful for Cade helping me out when I needed it.”
Martin is on the road most of the time, but spends down time on the family ranch in Kansas or with his girlfriend, Samantha, and her family in Texas.
“I travelled with Reese Riemer from Stinnett, Texas, this year and it was awesome” Martin said.
Trading off driving, the cowboys lived in the Bloomer trailer. “Reese likes to cook,” Martin acknowledged, “so we had some good meals on the road, too. I don’t like fast food.”
“Reese and I help each other out in every way we can so both of us get the best runs possible. It’s pretty cool,” Martin said.
Riemer has qualified for the NFR in 11th place with $85,428.
“I prefer to travel on the ground, so I can ride my own horses,” Martin said. But, he did fly to Calgary, Canada, and Pendleton, Oregon, and borrowed other horses.
During the past season, Martin also won rodeos at Pleasant Grove, Utah; Belton, Texas; Meridian, Idaho; Abilene, Kansas; Lewiston, Montana; and Coeur D Alene, Idaho.
Anticipating his second National Finals Rodeo, Martin said, “I learned so much last year and am really excited to be competing there again.
“There is so much money paid in each go-round, that I will take it one calf at a time. Do my best on every calf and it’ll all work out in the end,” Martin insisted.
Thanksgiving Day was for relaxation, but Martin was back in the roping pen the day after. “I’ll be roping until Wednesday before the finals then give my body and horse a couple days rest,” he said.
With the 2019 PRCA season already underway, Martin has competed in three rodeos winning $5,600, including checks at the All-American Finals in Waco, Texas.
“Only 85 rodeos will count for NFR qualification next year,” Martin said. “I’ll be going to 20 rodeos before Reno, Nevada, and about everyone I can after that to do what I can to make another NFR.”
Martin credits his family and sponsors for helping him stay on the road. “I sure appreciate what everybody does for me,” he said.
Actually, success is quite simple, according to Cooper Martin. “I just have to keep trying to tie them down. If I do, I’ll get paid. If not, it’s my fault.”