Buffalo’s Cole Reiner is the top-ranked bareback rider in the world entering the 2022 National Finals Rodeo.
Reiner will make his third NFR appearance in as many years in December. With only days to go before the national finals, Reiner said he feels good and is mentally prepared for the gauntlet that is the 10-day competition and associated events.
“I’m feeling really good,” Reiner said. “Physically, I feel good. And mental health and your attitude is a huge part of not just rodeo but just being able to stay in the moment and be competitive.”
It’s a feeling that he’s had most of this rodeo season and not something that was accidental or incidental.
Reiner, who graduated from Buffalo High School in 2017, said that as soon as the NFR wrapped up last season, he and his traveling companions, Kaycee Feild (No. 5 in bareback riding) and Tilden Hooper (No. 11 in bareback riding) , made a plan to attend as few rodeos as possible and still meet their earnings goals.
“They’re both 10 years older than me, and they’ve been doing it a lot longer. They definitely have a game plan, and I definitely followed the game plan,” Reiner said. Our game plan was to do as few rodeos as possible and stay feeling as good as possible. It’s pretty difficult to stay feeling good when you stay on the road and stay away from home or a place like home. Whenever you can get home and rest a little bit, it makes leaving a little bit easier.”
In pro rodeo, all dollars won at Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events count toward qualifying for the NFR, with the top 15 in each qualifying event. Most of the rodeos will have competed in 90 to 100 rodeos by the time they arrive in Las Vegas. Reiner competed in just over 50.
“Every year I learn a little more about how I like to rodeo and where I like to rodeo,” he said. “Not having to be out there every day, I was able to stay home and go hunting and go fishing and just hang out in Buffalo with my family and kind of get away from everything. So I’m very appreciative of that.”
Racking up $160,970.51 in winnings and securing first place in the world standings meant that Reiner performed very well in the rodeos in which he did compete. This season, Reiner won 10 rodeos: San Angelo (Texas) Cinch Chute-Out, the Chase Hawks Rough Stock Rodeo (Billings, Montana), the Clovis (California) Rodeo, the Elizabeth (Colorado) Stampede, the Days of the Old West Rodeo (Delta, Utah), the Cody (Wyoming) Stampede, the Central Wyoming (Casper) Fair & PRCA Rodeo, the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, and the Horse Heaven Roundup Rodeo (Kennewick, Washasington) and was co-champion at the Mountain Valley Stampede (Heber City, Utah).
“Casper and Sheridan both feel like hometown rodeos for me, so to win those was very exciting,” he said.
In the month leading up to the NFR, Reiner completed two gym workouts each day — it’s rare for him to miss a workout.
His workouts are varied and include weight training, body awareness training and explosive movements.
“I’m not in there trying to kill myself every day,” he said. “A lot of people get confused as far as being in the gym and then go crazy. That’s two different things.”
But hard work is something that was pretty much baked into Reiner. He grew up working for his parents’ landscaping business and was a two-time state wrestler champion with DI college scholarship offers.
“Everything that I did in Buffalo wrestling has completely come right across into rodeo. A lot of successful rodeoers, especially rough stock riders, were good college or high school wrestlers,” he said. It’s definitely being able to control your body and being able to know what training looks like and knowing how to take care of your body. And then knowing how to be picked up and slammed down and knowing how to take a hit or how to get thrown on the ground and roll and not just lay there.
But more than anything, a lot of wrestler mentality goes into those into bareback riding. It’s only for eight seconds and most matches are three to five or six minutes, but being able to warm up and being able to be ready on command and prepared is definitely something that translates.”
During his first appearance at the NFR in 2020, most of the associated events — such as autograph signing sessions and sponsors’ events — were canceled due to COVID-19. But last year, Reiner said, he got the full NFR experience and the days are long and demanding.
“The first thing I learned is that I needed a better sleep schedule,” he said.
Reiner was living and training in Texas leading up to the NFR, and he said the two-hour time change when he first arrived in Las Vegas had him waking up at five in the morning and wanting to go to bed at seven each night.
“I was just completely wiped out and then I want to go to bed by seven or 7:30,” he said. “And you don’t realize how taxing it is — mentally and physically.”
Reiner said that he’s learned to build in a few hours each day to physically take care of his body, get worked on by his trainer and prepare himself mentally.
He said he feels “silly” even saying it, and he knows it’s a “problem” most people won’t understand, but meeting with hundreds of fans in the span of a couple of hours requires a lot of focus.
“You want to be able to talk to people and be truly engaged and listening to what they have to say,” he said. “You want to be having fun and represent a company or sponsor. You want to be able to make a connection — that’s super important.
“I do appreciate everyone’s texts, calls, and messages to me from Buffalo and from anywhere in Wyoming, really,” he said. “I love being able to represent Wyoming, and I love getting a lot of support from Wyoming. It is really important and really special to me. I’m just very thankful.”
HED: How to watch the NFR
This year’s NFR is Dec. 1-10 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The National Finals Rodeo consists of 10 rounds — one round on each of the 10 consecutive days and each contestant competes once each day.
The Cowboy Channel is the official broadcaster of the 2022 NFR. The Cowboy Channel will broadcast the entire NFR 2022 (all performances Dec. 1 to 10 beginning at 6:45 pm MT every night).
Locally, the Cowboy Channel is channel 521 on Spectrum. DIRECTV subscribers can watch the Cowboy Channel on channel 603. The Cowboy Channel is channel 232 on the DISH Network.
To find the Cowboy Channel in your area with your paid TV provider, visit thecowboychannel.com/find-us-on-tv.
To stream the NFR on your devices, you must purchase the $99 NFR Streaming Pass. For more information or to purchase the streaming pass, visit nfrexperience.com/cowboy_channel.