The Family Who Rodeos Together…Winner Rodeo Family Shares Their Story

Posted on: May 28, 2024   |   Category: News Releases

By Lura Roti for South Dakota Farmers Union

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The Moore family raises cattle and operates the Winner Livestock Auction. The family also makes time for rodeo: Rowdy, Heather, Cody, Roper and Rider Moore.

All three of Heather and Cody Moore’s sons are rodeo athletes. And the Tripp County parents say in addition to all the great life lessons Rowdy, Roper and Rider have gleaned from competing in the sport, it’s the friends they have made that they are most grateful for.

“There’s the rodeo family, and then there’s your other family,” Heather explained.

“The whole family goes to the rodeo together, so we have all met friends,” Cody added. “Whatever rodeo we go to, pretty much all the Tripp County rodeo families will park our campers and horse trailers together. At any given time, there will be about 20 kids hanging out together. We’ll cook a brisket all day long, and at supper time we’ll all get together and eat together and spend the evening just hanging out.”

Cody grew up rodeoing, so their sons grew up hearing stories about rodeo. Rowdy, 19, and Roper, 16, began competing in local playday and 4-H rodeos when they were in elementary school. As soon as Rider, 11, was old enough, he joined them.

Rowdy and Roper Team Roping

“Rodeo is a great experience, I made a lot of good friends through rodeo who I still talk to,” explained Rowdy. “I’m glad my brothers are still involved.”

2023 was Rowdy’s last rodeo season. Just a few weeks after high school graduation, he was named All Around Cowboy during the High School Rodeo in Martin.

“Everyone missed the first round of steer wrestling, and on the second round, I got first and then Roper and I placed in both rounds of team roping,” Rowdy said.

At the time, Rowdy said he weighed 120 pounds. “I’m not really built for steer wrestling, but I like it so I sure tried my hardest to do well,” Rowdy said.

To practice Rowdy spent hours chute dogging at the Winner Arena. Over time he perfected his technique running steers through a chute and grabbing them as they ran out.

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Steer wrestling takes speed, timing and guts. “Basically, you fall off a horse on purpose, try and catch a steer by grabbing its horn and then you need to flip it over,” Rowdy explained.

“At first it was nerve-wracking to watch him,” Heather said. “But after I got used to it, it got more exciting.”

2024 will be Roper’s first South Dakota High School Rodeo season team roping without Rowdy.

“I miss roping with my brother because when you rope with your brother you don’t feel as vulnerable if you miss – because it’s your brother,” Roper said. “And you can always rope together, whereas if you have a partner who is not family, you have to schedule practice.”

Rowdy agreed. “I would get so nervous sitting in that box when I roped with someone else. It took a lot of pressure off when I roped with Roper last year that I actually did better.”

Rowdy team ropes on Apple, a horse Roper bought for only $100.

“There was a horse sale at our family’s auction market and I wanted a hat. My mom said I could not get a hat unless I bought a horse. So, I bought a horse, and he turned out to be pretty good,” Roper said.

Roper was seven at the time, so Cody was quick to add that it took a few years of experienced cowboys riding him in order for Apple to become the good team roping horse that he is today.

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In addition to team roping, Roper also competes in tie down and cattle cutting.

“Cutting is my main thing now – I got addicted to it,” Roper said. “I like the aspect of a good horse. Cutting horses are different in a way, there are not a lot of roping horses where you can just drop the reigns and they know what to do. I like the feeling of a good cowy horse that will go up and stop a cow.”

Roper’s cutting horse, Ettafied, was purchased by a family friend, Tom Kauer. He and Ettafied qualified for the South Dakota High School Rodeo Finals in 2023 and ended up placing in the top 15. This year, horse and rider hope to qualify once again. But even if they don’t make it to the finals this year, Roper said there’s more to rodeo than winning.

“Rodeo teaches you hard work and dedication. It is not something you can get good at overnight. You can be a hero one day and zero the next. It is mentally challenging. I know rodeo has helped me become mentally prepared for life.”

Rider goat tying

Youngest brother, Rider, agreed. In addition to goat tying and team roping, he competes in basketball, football and golf. “Being in rodeo taught me that if you want to be good in a sport, you need to spend time practicing on your own.”

Heather said Rider honed his roping skills roping dummies at his brothers’ rodeos long before he was old enough to compete. Today he puts those skills to work in the arena.