Early to Rise

For 15 years, weekend after weekend, bull after bull, bronc after bronc, cowboys have solidified legendary careers on the dirt in front of a bucking chute and bleachers full of enthusiastic fans. They are famous for their grit and determination during their professional careers, which for some are still paying out.

Throughout their careers, these cowboys have learned the hard way. Some never having a checking account, not having the skills to attract sponsors, and unaware of the value of nutrition and being fit.

Because of these experiences early in their lives, today some of the best cowboy athletes in the industry are dedicating their time to helping to improve the lives and opportunities of the next generation of rodeo cowboys. 

To Preserve the Culture, Values and Lifestyle of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy, Support the Rodeo Industry…and Promote Life in the Outdoors, David Todd founded Cowboy Outfitters USA in 2009. Cowboy Outfitters USA (COUSA) was formed with the goal of assisting a select group of Professional Rodeo Cowboys, all qualifiers for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, in developing outside interests and business opportunities during their rodeo career and beyond. 

Beginning in 2014, the members of this elite group have chosen to take the mission a step further and mentor groups, most likely their future competitors and possibly their replacements, three times a year at Cowboy Outfitters USA Invitational camps. This year’s camps took to the road to broaden the scope of the future rodeo stars nationwide. Saginaw, Texas, Spanish Fork, Utah, and Fargo, North Dakota are the three sites for the 2015 COUSA camps. 

Some of the weekend professors include modern greats in bull riding such as World Champions Wes Silcox, Steve Woolsey, and Cody Teel; NFR qualifiers and George Paul Memorial Champions Trey Benton, and Clint Craig; CBR, NFR, and PRCA Champions Aaron Pass and Chandler Bownds, Corey and Ardie Maier; and 4 time World Champion bull rider Tuff Hedeman. 

Representing the pro’s saddle and bronc portion of the program was World Champs such as Tilden Hooper, Jeff Collins, and Jake Griffin.

Cowboy Outfitters USA steered by David Todd and Peter Valasco, have developed a way of sharing these cowboy lessons while preserving the future of the rodeo cowboy.

According to Fox Sports bull riding broadcaster and former NFR and CBR bull rider, Clint Craig, “Cowboy Outfitters USA Rodeo Camp is a one of a kind; it is not a bull riding school. 

“We are different in the fact that we raise the money for the kids to come. We go thru the high school directors of each state and ask the directors for the top prospects to become professional rodeo cowboys.” 

The first of the three Rodeo Camps held in 2015 was a huge success. Located in Saginaw, Texas, on the first weekend in May, COUSA invited 50 of the “Best-Of-The Best” Rough Stock High School Rodeo Cowboys from across the US. Winning $43,000 in his first professional bull riding, Wyatt Rogers, a high school senior from Rose, Oklahoma, had some of the skills he needed as he was launched to the top of the CBR World Standings and found himself helmet to helmet with World Champions every weekend.

“As an athlete I gained a great deal of training advice”, said Rogers after completing his second trip to the COUSA camp. I would strongly encourage any youth rider to look into making the camp list and attending”. Even with 8 months of the CBR Mahindra Road to Cheyenne televised tour behind him Rogers claims to have learned even more this year about sponsor fulfillment and how to treat your career as a personal business.

In addition to technical Instruction in their core events, the Rodeo Camps focus on other aspects of becoming a “Professional Rodeo Cowboy” as the Camp Cowboys will hear from Past World Champions, Senior Rodeo Officials from Major Rodeos, College Rodeo Coaches, Executives from major rodeos, industry sponsors and personal trainers and nutritionists as well as public relations specialists.

Social media extraordinaire Alexis Bloomer was on hand this year to navigate the positives and perils of social media, an eye opener for most of the participants. 

“I had no idea sponsors follow us daily on social media”, said one of the younger participants. 

“I had the skills to ride when I came to the camp, but they helped me a lot in my riding, but they taught us other stuff like traveling, talking to sponsors, fitness and nutrition, and touched base on entering, flights and conduct. You know you can’t rent a car until you’re 25 years old. That’s good stuff to know!”

Subjects such as training and exercise, personal nutrition, equipment, pre-ride routines, navigating the difference pro organizations and promoting and marketing yourself with sponsors and the media were just a few of the discussions held during the weekend. 

But it is not just classroom, most of the fun happens in the hands on “riding” portion of the camp. Encouraging and developing that winning attitude known as “cowboy try” is a big part of our goal, continued Craig as he prepared from Utah for the second camp. Bareback, Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding Instruction is still the attraction to most of the young rodeo athletes attending these camps. 

“The future of rodeo is bright; we see a lot of kids with a lot of talent, but riding is only about the inside of the arena. We are touching them outside the arena which will last a lot longer.”

I once heard a speech by NFL Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks who said a wealthy life is not about how much you make. It is about how much you save, how much you preserve, and how much of yourself you give back to your community. Being rich is not the same thing as being wealthy. Rich is superficial. Wealth is powerful. 

The single most important message trying to be conveyed by most of the rodeo instructors, “A positive attitude will carry you thru a lot of things… If you try as hard as you do on that bull in life, you can do anything.”

For more information on COUSA,, contact Peter S. Velasco, (210) 393-6565 and or David Todd (512) 217-1587,  (830) 562-3354 and