CLAY O’BRIEN COOPER: Horsepower is never to be taken for granted
The toughest part of making a living roping is getting and maintaining horsepower. If you’ve got a really good horse it’s easy to take that for granted. I had a great horse for a couple years when I won my first couple championships. His name was Blue, and he just did things so well that he made it easy to heel. He was my difference maker at that time, because he let me do what I’d worked so hard on. When I lost him, I spent four or five years struggling from horse to horse. We still won championships, but it wasn’t the same and we didn’t dominate. The statistics say we (Jake and Clay) won seven world championships, but there were four or five of them that were dog eat dog, grind it out, fight to the bitter end and somehow come out on top situations. That was from lack of horsepower on both our sides. We had good horses, but they weren’t great. I got my buckskin horse, Ike, in 1992, and he lasted me 11 years. He was a tough horse that I could rope good on, so I had the luxury of going a good, long period of time when he was always there for me. I kind of wish he’d been there for the first 10 years of my career, because during the second 10 years I started having a family and working on other business endeavors, like teaching roping schools. Ike may not have lasted like he did if I’d had him in the trailer non-stop those first 10 years, but it sure would have been great to have him.
After Ike, I bounced around for several years until Kory Koontz sold me LB at the end of 2012. What I came to realize over the years is that LB doesn’t like to practice. He’s not much fun to practice on, either, so I practice on other horses. But when you back him in there for money, I don’t know that any horse has ever fit me any better.