MIAMI, Texas – Wyatt Casper learned a valuable lesson through the course of ProRodeo’s 2022 regular season: Don’t try to rush back from an injury.
Casper is a saddle bronc rider who makes a living riding dynamite in the form of bucking horses. In early July, he suffered a partially torn right hamstring. He tried to ride through it, but that just didn’t work. He took two weeks off, returned, then spent two more weeks back on the injured list before trying it again.
He found his way back to the game by the end of that month and rode through the next two weeks, picking up checks along the way. In Heber City, Utah, though, he tore the muscle completely and had to finish out the season on injured reserve. It was back home to the Texas Panhandle to recuperate and hang out with his wife, Lesley, and their two children, Cooper, 4, and Cheyenne, who will be 3 in December.
“With one negative, there’s a positive, and that was being able to come home and hang with the wife and kids and doing stuff I don’t normally get to do,” said Casper, 26, of Miami. “I don’t know what they’re going to do when I’m out rodeoing again.”
Since that day in early August, Casper has been going through rehabilitation and getting himself prepared. His season isn’t over. He’s earned his third straight qualification to the National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale that takes place Dec. 1-10 in Las Vegas. He finished his campaign with $123,802 and will enter the competition in the Nevada desert as the 11th-ranked bronc rider in the world standings.
“It’s been a pretty cool year,” he said. “I would take every year like this if I could have a good start to the year like I did and still make the NFR even missing the last two months of the season.
“I’m still rehabbing my hamstring, slowly getting it ready for the finals. Shawn Scott (with the Justin Sportsmedicine team) and I got together, and he wanted me to give it 60 days off without getting on any broncs. We’ve been doing regular stuff, stretching it, band work and light lifting. I’m just trying ot get it 100 percent again. It feels really good.”
That bodes well for the Texas cowboy, who was raised on a place near Balko, Oklahoma, and moved to Texas to attend Clarendon College; he remained in the Texas Panhandle upon getting married in 2017. He finished the 2020 season as the reserve world champion to titlist Ryder Wright, then closed out the 2021 season eighth in the world standings.