Rodeo is many things to many people. Fans are entertained by rugged grit, contractors showcase their prized rough stock, some contestants covet fame while other chase fortune, and for many it’s a way of life.
Through years of dedication and dust, bareback rider Cody DeMers has transformed his passion for rodeo into a lifestyle. At rodeos all across the country, crowds hold their breath in anticipation as cowboys lean over the chute tightening his rigging and an announcer proclaims a few of his career highlights. With a slight nod of the black felt hat concealing determined hazel eyes, the gate swings open sending a horse that’s been bred to buck lunging into the arena. Dirt flies under powerful hooves as DeMers moves in subtle precision to remain atop the flailing mount while spurring it to higher scores. When that 8 second buzzer sounds, more often than not, DeMers is right where he started, firmly grasping the handle which connects him to the horse and awaiting the aid of a pick-up man to set him back on solid ground.
Success on the rodeo circuit is not easily come by. Rising gas prices and broken bones work against many cowboys chasing the dream. Though DeMers was given a jump on the competition by fellow rough stock rider and dad, Joe DeMers, getting him involved in rodeo schools at the age of five, DeMers’ success is due to his own dedication and mental toughness.
From mutton busting to riding horses through stockyard sale rings, DeMers grew up immersed in the cowboy life studying and learning from those around him. While many are quick to attribute accomplishments to their own doing, DeMers believes he wouldn’t be where he is today without the knowledge and support of others.
“Everything I have I owe to rodeo, and I owe rodeo to everyone who helped me,” said DeMers.
Though DeMers carried with him many lessons learned and perfected upon them over the years from high school rodeo through amateur circuits to the professional world, he admits the road can be rough.
“The toughest part is fighting your head. Rodeo is 9% try, 1% timing and 90% mental,” he notes.
No matter how high a horse bucks and how hard a cowboy tries, sometimes things just don’t go right. Scores given by judges can be subjective, marks may be missed coming out of the chute, or the horse might simply prove a worthy adversary that day. The key is positive thinking since anything less can result in small mistakes that will only add to the slump.
“Even if I focus on my nod for that ride, that I looked good when I made that nod, I make sure to find something positive to think about,” DeMers recalls.
Though DeMers has had a few slumps to ride through, much of his career has been spent on top of the bareback standings. Taking several top rodeos across the nation earned him enough winnings for four trips the National Finals Rodeo in ’03, ’04, ’05 and ‘11. For him, the nerves many experience when competing at that level are no problem.
“I do better in pressure situations. The Finals are what it’s for. It’s why we do it,” DeMers said of the prestigious event held in Las Vegas every year. “I know I rode against the best there.”
Reaching the Finals, an accomplishment every rodeo cowboy strives for, may seem like the pinnacle of a career. But DeMers has no plans of stopping.
“You have to keep setting goals almost out of reach,” he stated. “Ok, I made it to the Finals. Was I lucky? Can I do it again?”
So he’ll continue hitting the rodeo trail, living his passion and proving that he can indeed achieve those lofty goals he’s set before himself. Though the years have been good to DeMers on the rodeo circuit, he admits marrying his wife, Nicole, and expanding the family with his daughter, Hailee, have made it harder to leave home.
Rodeo is how he provides for his family and the freedom it allows is a big benefit in his eyes.
“You’re not going to find an office job that lets you come and go or cancel if you don’t feel like going,” DeMers said.
When he’s not out on chasing the white line for his own rodeos, he’s helping other rough stock riders reach their dreams as an assistant coach for the College of Southern Idaho’s rodeo team. Harboring deep appreciation and respect for all the help he received over the years DeMers wants to make sure others are given the same chances he was.
“It’s been absolutely great,” he affirmed with a smile regarding his time as a coach.
With the true west and cowboy lifestyles slowly fading in the sunset, DeMers encourages everyone who holds hopes of rodeo to turn their aspirations into a reality.
“Find the best in your area and learn everything you can from them,” DeMers advises. “You can even call here (CSI).”
And so his legacy continues, not only through his own wildly successful career but through those he challenges, coaches and supports.