First in his college rankings. Former world champion. Top-10 finish last time he competed at the World finals.
Armstrong cowboy Jaret Cooper’s confidence is, like his 2021 performance in saddle bronc, riding large.
Cooper heads to Las Vegas this week for the Junior World Finals Rodeo, part of the National Finals Rodeo event. It will be his fourth World Championship event. He’ll compete in saddle bronc with his first ride set for Friday, Dec. 3, and he gets back in the saddle Sunday, Dec. 5. If he makes the top-10, Cooper will compete in the short-go on Dec. 6.
“I’m pretty excited,” said the soft-spoken Cooper, 18. “My confidence is pretty high.”
Cooper, a Vernon Secondary grad, returned home to the North Okanagan for a few days to spend with family and to enjoy mom Karen’s home cooking before heading south. He’s been honing his skills inside and outside the rodeo ring at Olds College in Olds, Alta., where he is part of the Broncos’ rodeo team, and is studying in the school’s farrier science certificate program (makes horse shoes and applies them to horses’ hooves).
In the rodeo arena, 2021 has been a great year for Cooper.
He currently leads the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s saddle bronc standings with 395 points, 20 more than Jared Solomon of the Southern Alberta Intercollegiate Rodeo Team. Cooper collected his points with a win in the first go (performance) at the Lakeland Fall Classic in Vermillion, Alta., scoring a 66, and was third in the second go with a 65. He was third in the second go at the Broncos’ home rodeo with a 66 and capped off the first half by finishing fifth (62) and fourth (64) at Fort McLeod.
Cooper also competes in college in tie-down roping. He sits sixth in the standings with 270 points, which includes winning the first-go at Fort McLeod with a time of 10.9 seconds.
“It’s been a pretty good first half,” said Cooper. “College life is alright. I don’t eat as much food anymore.”
Cooper’s pre-college career is what attracted the attention of Olds College.
Dating back to 2018, Cooper put together a serious resumé as he was named the 2018 Canadian Junior Roughstock Champion in saddle bronc and the 2020 BC High School Rodeo Association saddle bronc champion. In addition to these wins, Cooper also finished third at the 2019 Canadian High School Finals in calf roping, second at the Canadian High School Finals in steer wrestling, and was a qualifier for the National High School Rodeo Association (NHRSA) Finals in saddle bronco, calf roping, and steer wrestling in 2019 and 2020.
Internationally, Cooper finished first and was named World Champion at the 2019 World Junior Finals (15-18 year olds) in Las Vegas competing in saddle bronc. He followed up his 2019 successes with a sixth place finish in saddle bronc at the 2020 World Junior Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
Olds College rodeo team is continually working towards improving their team while maintaining academics. Practices are offered four nights a week in a heated indoor arena as well as scheduled riding time on the weekends. Coaches are committed to coming in at every opportunity and helping members learn so they can excel in each event. In addition, there are outdoor pens for students to board their horses on campus.
Last year the team celebrated its 50th year and is incredibly proud with the achievements of the team to date, however Olds Rodeo knew they could offer more opportunities. This year Olds College Rodeo held tryouts and now, for the first time, has a varsity team of 14 athletes.