Jaret Cooper likes one particular cheerleader.
Cooper, 16, a Grade 11 student at Vernon Secondary with strong roots in Clearwater, rode Wyoming’s R and R Stocks’ horse, Cheerleader, to a career-best 78 score late last year at the Las Vegas Convention Centre to win the 2019 World Novice Saddle Bronc championship at the Junior World Finals, part of the National Finals Rodeo event.
Cooper had been sitting in third place heading into the final go-round on average after scores of 61 and 52 on his first two rides earlier in the competition.
“The two guys ahead of me were pretty far ahead so if they rode, the best I could do was third place,” said Cooper.
“They both got bucked off and I had my best ride ever. I didn’t know the two guys had got bucked off. I was just focused on my ride and I wanted to make sure I rode and got third place.
“My dad (Tim) said, ‘Don’t worry, there’s nothing you can do if the guys ahead of you finish their rides.’ My sister (Tylee) said, ‘Congratulations, you’re a world champion’.”
Cooper said he was feeling out of it after his ride as he was clipped on the side of the head by Cheerleader as he dismounted following his eight-second ride.
Cooper receives a buckle for winning the world championship, doing so with his parents Tim and Karen, and sisters Emme and Tylee, there to watch.
“It means a lot to me that they were there,” said Cooper.
“My parents drive me everywhere and pay for all the food and gas.
“My dad, he gets nervous when I compete.
“When I got off after the ride today, he was tearing up behind the trucks.”
The world championship win caps off quite a 10-day stretch for Cooper, who also won a B.C. High School Senior Varsity AA Football championship with the undefeated Vernon Panthers on Nov. 30, 2019.
Cooper’s grandmother, Tina Colborne, who resides in Clearwater with Cooper’s grandfather Ron, said the pair have nothing but pride for their grandson’s achievements.
“It was a pretty good feeling to know this young man has done this,” said Colborne. “We’re really proud, he’s come a long way.”