Home is where Casper’s heart is

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Cinch bronc rider Wyatt Casper, who won the fifth round of the 2020 National Finals Rodeo on Korkow Rodeo’s Onion Ring, tries not to miss out on spending time with his wife, Lesley, and their two young children, Cooper, 3, and Cheyenne, 2. He makes a focused effort to return home when possible throughout the rodeo season.

Cinch saddle bronc rider makes time to spend with his family in Texas

On Easter Sunday as Cooper and Cheyenne Casper were hunting eggs, their dad was 1,600 miles away from home handling his business.

He certainly wanted to celebrate the holiday with his family, but Cinch saddle bronc rider Wyatt Casper had a wild horse to ride at the Red Bluff (California) Round-Up. He had placed his association saddle on a big, black Calgary Stampede horse named Yo Yo Marble and turned his attention to the powerful Canadian bucking machine.

Once he nodded his head, Casper matched every jump and kick from the animal with a classic spur ride. The result was 88 points, enough to win the ProRodeo Hall of Fame event and add big bucks to his bank account. He may have missed hunting eggs and or going to church, but he better provided for his family and gave Casper a chance to not have to miss more family time in the months ahead.

“I feel like family time at home is pretty important,” said Casper, 25, of Miami, Texas. “Just take Red Bluff and Clovis (California): I was at Red Bluff on (April) 17th, and I ended up flying home so I could help (wife) Lesley at a barrel race and flew back to Clovis to ride on the 22nd.

“That’s a pretty good example of what I do to make sure I get home.”

As of April 25, he had pocketed $61,000 and was fifth in the world standings. That offered a bit of cushion for the cowboy, who was raised in the tiny Oklahoma Panhandle community of Balko before moving an hour or so south into Texas. He’s earned National Finals Rodeo qualifications each of the past two seasons and has proven his place among ProRodeo’s elite.

He knows being away from his wife and kids is just part of the job, but he doesn’t mind extending himself to make sure all the Caspers are together when possible.

“This year’s been really good; I’m pretty tickled with it,” he said. “I feel like I’m starting to figure out a little bit on how to rodeo and when to rodeo. I’m trying not to rodeo my butt off right now. I want to take it easy and be at home with my family and maybe take a different route on rodeoing this year.

“I’m usually pretty high on my rodeo count when I get toward the end of the year, so maybe I’ll skip some rodeos I normally go to and spend that time at home.”

Cheyenne, left, and Cooper Casper spent their Easter Sunday like so many young children, hunting eggs and enjoying the holiday with family. They were just missing their dad, Cinch cowboy Wyatt Casper, who was busy winning the Red Bluff (California) Round-Up.

It’s definitely a give-and-take. He doesn’t want to miss out on opportunities in rodeo, yet he doesn’t want to miss out on watching his children grow. FaceTime is amazing, and technology allows for more visual contact, but it can’t beat a hug or tucking the little ones in at night.

“I wouldn’t say I miss a whole lot of stuff with the kids yet,” Casper said. “I feel like when they get into sports and school, I might miss some pretty important stuff. This is a subject my wife and I talk about a lot. When the day comes that I feel comfortable enough pushing back on the bronc riding for me to do something here at the house, I’m probably going to do that.

“I had a pretty good upbringing with my parents being at all my sports events, so I want to teach my kids how to play football and rope and be able to go to all their junior rodeos.”

It was a sense of family that drew John and Amy Casper to the Panhandle region in the first place. Originally from Minnesota, they moved to Balko two decades ago to help set up Wyatt and his brothers, Ty and Clay. Family friend Ralph Taton was living in Beaver, Oklahoma, and he suggested the family move south if they wanted the boys to have a future in rodeo.

It worked out pretty well. Wyatt was 4 years old when the family made its way to the Sooner State, and that’s pretty much all he’s known. Too young to remember much about his first few years, he’s content to have grown up in warmer temperatures. When he was set to graduate high school, Casper found Clarendon (Texas) College.

“I was pretty late on looking at colleges, and Clarendon was the first one I looked at,” he said. “Cody Heck was the coach at the time. They sold me on the indoor practice facility and the welding program. I was really glad to be able to go there. Bret (Franks) took over coaching my second year, and he had been a really good assistant coach for my first year.”

Franks is a three-time NFR qualifier in saddle bronc riding, so that mentorship remains valuable.

“It was a great time for me,” Casper said. “It was exactly where I needed to be.”

He proved that in June 2016, when he became the first Clarendon cowboy to win the national championship, doing so during the bronc riding at the College National Finals Rodeo. He was followed by bronc rider Riggin Smith in 2019 and bareback rider and all-around champion Cole Franks in 2021; last year’s team also won the men’s title, the first in school history.

“It’s pretty cool what they’ve accomplished since I’ve been there,” Casper said.

Wyatt Casper celebrates winning the seventh round of the 2021 National Finals Rodeo by making a victory lap inside the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

In 2020, Casper set his family up for success by winning The American, collecting $603,000 in the process. While only $50,000 counted toward the PRCA world standings, it propelled him to his first NFR, where he finished second in the world standings.

That financial windfall allows him the opportunity to travel home a bit more than others, but he’s doing pretty well fiscally riding broncs year after year. Over the last two and a half seasons, Casper has earned nearly $1.1 million riding bucking horses. When he’s not doing that, there are plenty of things to do around his family’s home.

“I usually wake up around 7 or 8 each morning, feed horses and come back in the house and help my wife cook breakfast or get the kids ready to go,” he said. “I usually find something to do here at the house, whether it’s a project my wife has for me or just riding horses. I like to ride horses as much as I can. I like riding these young ones for my wife to use.”

Lesley Casper is a barrel racer, and the two train the horses together. It’s an income opportunity for the young family, but there’s more to it.

“I feel like we’ve got a couple chance to make some money with them, but she likes going to the rodeos and competing,” Wyatt Casper said. “She doesn’t really want to chase it hard and try to make the rodeos, but she definitely likes going.”

As summertime approaches and the rodeo road comes calling, Casper will head out on the trail with his traveling partners, Lefty Holman and Jake Clark, in order to chase their gold buckle dreams. Lesley, Cooper and Cheyenne will join him from time to time, because it’s important for all of them.

As a young couple, the Caspers set up shop in her hometown of Pampa, Texas, about 20 miles from where they now live. When the opportunity arose two years ago, her brother sold the couple some property near Miami, so they made the move.

“I knew the school and the community around here was good, so that’s where we decided to settle down so far,” he said.

Typical rodeo cowboys don’t always settle for much, but when it comes to family, Wyatt Casper has his priorities in the right place.


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