A Utah family of world champion saddle bronc riders has dominated the Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo for over a decade. The Wright Brothers return every year bringing some of the most prized moments at Ogden Pioneer Stadium, most recently in 2017 when Cody Wright (two-time world saddle bronc riding champion, 2008, 2010) won the best loss of his life - to his two sons.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be a rodeo cowboy. And it was even better being able to do it with my boys,” says Wright. His sons Rusty and Ryder (world champion 2017), and now younger brother Stetson, have been living their dream of competing with their dad. All three told us they grew up admiring their dad and wanting to follow in his footsteps. “He has opened a lot of doors for me that I didn’t have to open myself, says Rusty. “And he has been there and done that and taught me the ropes so I didn’t have to learn the hard way.”
There has never been a family this successful in rodeo, sports, or any other event. Cody is the oldest of 7 brothers, sons of Bill and Evelyn Wright, who, with the exception of one, have all become professional saddle bronc riding cowboys. They’ve had as many as eight family members buckin’ horses in a single rodeo and together have rounded up five world champion titles in saddle bronc riding.
“You’ve got to be a cowboy first before you can be a rodeo cowboy,” Rusty remarked in the Yeti Presents documentary “The Wright Boys.”
And they’re not just rodeo cowboys. Rusty, Ryder and Stetson are seventh-generation cattle ranchers in southern Utah, a 150 year legacy chronicled in the 2018 book by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist John Branch, “The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West.” For the Wright family, rodeo isn’t just a sport or a lifestyle. It’s their livelihood. Making a living herding cattle in the 21st century means facing constant threats of drought, public-land policy and rising beef prices - winning world championships bucking horses is a necessity. “Herding cows and pouring concrete sure makes you want to ride broncs good,” says Rusty in the Yeti documentary.
Stetson, the only Wright who competes in more than one rodeo event says “I want to be one of the first guys to win the all-around title, saddle bronc world title and bull riding world title all in the same year.” Ryder and Rusty both have their sights set on breaking the record for most saddle bronc world championships won.
It’s just the beginning for this rodeo legacy, and if anyone can keep a cattle ranch business, and the western cowboy lifestyle alive, it will be the Wrights.
Stetson plans to hold on for eight seconds on the bull and bronc at this year’s Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo. Saddle up and head out to Pioneer Stadium to watch them all compete!