It’s one busy week of riding and roping within the Michael Cooper family.
Cooper, who is from Weatherford, has advanced three horses in dramatic fashion to the National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes 4-year-old open division semifinal round, which is scheduled for Saturday at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
That’s a remarkable feat because the Super Stakes is one of the toughest aged events on the NCHA circuit. The 4-year-old open division final, which is scheduled for Sunday, is the middle jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series.
Cooper also has two sons who are grabbing attention. His youngest, Lance, clinched the Super Stakes’ limited open division 4-year-old title Monday night after turning in a score of 223 aboard a horse named Zen And Tonic. It was a remarkable victory because Lance Cooper is only 17 and competed against adults.
If that’s not enough, Cooper’s 19-year-old son, Lane, will enter this weekend’s Tarleton State Rodeo with the 2017-2018 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region team roping heading title clinched.
The Tarleton Rodeo is the region’s season closer rodeo and Lane Cooper and his partner, James Kirby Blankenship, will enter the Stephenville-based rodeo with unmatchable leads in the regional heading and heeling title races.
That’s also a remarkable feat because the NIRA’s Southwest Region is a college rodeo super conference.
Lane Cooper is on Weatherford College’s rodeo team and he’s coached by Johnny Emmons, who qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in tie-down roping and the College National Finals in team roping.
At the Fort Worth-based NCHA Super Stakes, Michael Cooper, 41, advanced to the 4-year-old open semifinals after turning in three lofty aggregate scores after competing in the first two rounds. The second round concluded Monday.
Cooper posted a 440.5 on a horse named Judgement Day, a 438.5 aboard another animal athlete named Pharrel and a 438 atop Cat About Houston.
“The cool thing about the whole deal is we’ve raised all three of the horses and they are out of the same mama,” Cooper said.
The three horses’ mother is Bet On Houston, once a prize winning competitor on the NCHA circuit. Cooper is the resident trainer at the Rose Valley Ranch of Weatherford where the three horses were taught to compete in cutting horse shows.
Judgement Day’s 440.5 was the highest aggregate score of all of the 61 semifinal qualifiers. Cooper said Judgement Day has a knack for working a cow.
“He’s so cow smart and strong,” he said. “He’s a really easy horse to get ready. ... He’s just a simple horse. He just wants to help.”
Cooper said Pharrel can make a great run no matter what speed it takes to hold a cow at bay.
“He can go slow and do just fine,” he said. “He has a real classy style.”
Cooper said Cat About Houston has remarkable physical abilities.
“That horse has a lot of athletic ability,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve really tapped into what that horse can do.”
In addition to winning the Super Stakes' Limited Open title, Lance Cooper and Zen And Tonic clinched the 4-Year-Old Non-Pro Championship at The Cattlemen’s Derby and Classic last month in Graham.
Cooper and Zen And Tonic shared the title at the 2017 NCHA Futurity Limited Non-Pro finals in December Fort Worth. The duo also won non-pro titles earlier this year in Abilene and Ardmore, Okla.
For Michael Cooper, cutting horse and rodeo activities has become a family affair. He said his sons receive a lot of support from his wife, Jennifer.
“They have a great mother who supports them,” Cooper said. “She does anything and runs them anywhere. She’s right there if they need something.”
Cooper said both of his sons thrive on a winning mentality.
“God has blessed us very much all the way from my grandfather who drilled it in that success will be there if you work hard,” Cooper said. “Both of these boys have grown up and they’re just winners. They just try hard, they like to win and they work hard at it.”