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Published: 29 January 2015 / Written by Super User / Category: Lens / Hits: 126

Teenagers Rusty and Ryder Wright are the youngest generation of champions from a Utah family that has dominated the classic rodeo event of saddle-bronc riding.


It was mid-July in Wyoming. Rusty and Ryder Wright, from the family of the best saddle-bronc riders in the world, looked at a sheet of paper taped to the wall outside a rodeo arena in Evanston.

Rusty swore. “I didn’t want that horse,” he said of a devilish bronc named Party Rocker. “He bucks, but he’s hard to ride. I scored 88 on him once, but it’s all or nothing.”

Rusty, 18, and Ryder, 16, each signed in at the office window and paid the $75 entry fee in cash. They carried their saddles and gear toward the chutes. Two young men looked at each other as Rusty and Ryder stepped past.


“Them Wright boys are here,” one whispered to the other.


No family dominates the classic rodeo event of saddle-bronc riding like the Wrights of Milford, Utah. Three brothers have won the world championship in the past five years, and a fourth has finished second.


The most accomplished of the Wright brothers is Cody, 37, who has two world titles and has been the best saddle-bronc rider of the past decade. Cody and his wife, ShaRee, have five children. Rusty and Ryder are the oldest.


The New York Times spent a year following three generations of Wrights through the seasons of rodeo and ranching. The photographer Josh Haner and I spent much of that time with the youngest generation, just now moving into the family’s dual interests in bucking horses and beef cattle.


Rusty arrived at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., as the two-time defending champion in saddle bronc. Among more than 100 contestants, he was in first place after the first round. Ryder was in second.


“Let’s go to Milford, Utah,” the upbeat public-address announcer said on a weekday morning as Rusty sat in the saddle of an angry horse thrashing inside the chute.

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