Wright brother hoping to add bull-riding to family legacy
Readin’, writin’ and saddle bronc ridin’. For the famous Wright clan, it’s become a time-honored ritual. More than sport, it’s a way of life.
Graduate from high school, then join the pro rodeo circuit bustin’ broncs.
But Stetson Wright appears to be bucking family tradition.
In addition to saddle bronc riding, the 18-year-old Utah cowboy has added bull riding to his repertoire and is on the verge of a breakout performance at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.
Through Tuesday’s opening semifinal performance, Wright is the leading money-winner in the event — and the entire rodeo — with $12,500 in earnings.
But bull riding?
“We’ve all ridden bulls at one time or another,” Wright said. “I just want to keep it going.”
The Wright name is synonymous with saddle bronc royalty.
Brothers Rusty and Ryder are saddle bronc riders and are poised to make the finals in San Antonio, as are uncles Jesse, Jake, Spencer and Alex.
That would make seven Wrights in the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo finals Saturday should they qualify. All would be in saddle bronc riding except for Stetson.
Stetson’s father, Cody, is a two-time world champion saddle bronc rider. Uncles Jesse (2012) and Spencer (2014) also have won world championships. Brother Ryder won in 2017.
Winning San Antonio would represent the biggest win of Stetson’s young career. A rookie, Stetson won almost $70,000 on his permit last year after a knee injury sidelined him in 2017.
“It would be a big boost for my goal of making the NFR (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo),” said Stetson, who wrestled and helped his high school football team win the state small-school title his senior year. “I love everything about this rodeo. I’ve been to it in the past with my dad. Now being able to ride in it is the coolest thing ever.”
Stetson hasn’t given up on saddle bronc riding. Far from it. He didn’t qualify for the semifinals in the event at San Antonio after getting bucked off in all three of his rides in his bracket.
He’s had a rough start to his season in saddle bronc riding, but Stetson is undeterred.
“There’s a lot of rodeos left,” he said. “I’m not going to sweat it. But after what happened here I’m eager to get back out there. I want to win (in saddle bronc riding) so bad it makes my teeth hurt.”
His goal is to win world titles in both events and the all-around this year. If successful, he would be the first all-around champion coming from the rough stock events since Ty Murray in the 1990s.
His father thinks Stetson has the potential to become the best Wright ever.
“He’s naturally talented,” said Cody, 41, an active saddle bronc rider until a nasty spill a year ago sidelined him, at least temporarily. “He has the ability to be just as good if not better than the rest of them. It just depends on how bad he wants it and how much he wants to apply himself.”
The Wrights are seventh-generation cattle ranchers in southern Utah, a family that was recently chronicled in the book “The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West.”
But rodeo is as much a part of their life as cattle-ranching, said Cody Wright, one of 13 children.
“None of us were pushed into it,” he said. “And I told my sons I would support whatever they want to do. But in this sport, I really believe you have to eat, sleep, drink and breathe it to be successful. Stetson does that.”
“He’s just naturally gifted at everything he does,” said Stetson’s uncle Jake, Cody’s 29-year-old brother. “He might just end up being the best (in the family). He works hard and he really enjoys it. He very fun-loving, a great kid.”
Stetson said it’s nice to have so many family members to go to for advice. He often ends up going to his father, Cody, or his mother, ShaRee.
Stetson said he wears a helmet as a bull rider, something that is not required by the PRCA. But it is an order from his mother.
“She said, ‘If you don’t wear a helmet, the bull may not kill you, but I will,’” Stetson said.