UNITY - A familiar name in the rodeo arena as well as Senlac and Unity’s claim to fame celebrity affiliation, Ash Cooper performed at the 2021 Calgary Stampede.
Cooper says during calving season this past spring he was advised that he had been selected to entertain at the Calgary Stampede this year. He has been part of this event before both as a bull fighter and rodeo clown on separate occasions. While he continues to take his “island of safety,” otherwise known as the bull barrel in the arena to assist the bullfighters when needed, this year he was hired for the entertainment he provides.
He almost seemed astounded at his own answer when asked how long he has been performing. crAsh Cooper has been part of rodeo circuits for somewhere along 20 years, starting as bullfighter in his mid 20s, progressing into the entertainment side of rodeo.
“There were three stage COVID-19 protocols although, in my opinion, some of them didn’t make sense. Myself, I was in category three which meant I didn’t have to be tested although I shared a dressing room with the Canadian bullfighters. The American participants were category one and had very limited activity outside of their bubble and were tested every day, while the category two participants could mix with category threes but were also tested every day.”
Cooper was part of all 10 performances of this year’s Stampede and admits he wasn’t always that busy as his gig relies on lulls in action such as when animals can’t be easily herded or there is an injury or something that delays performances. However, on final performance day there were a few times he was called upon to keep the crowd entertained, which is what he loves to do.
As he hasn’t participated in rodeo in a couple of years, he did wonder how it was all going to play out. However, his ability to “wing it” and perform in a no fear mode gave the crowd exactly what they were accustomed to.
When rodeo fans remarked on the rank bulls that seemed to be part of the livestock at the Stampede this year, Cooper was asked if he had any close calls. “Well, it might look like a close call to the audience, however an action I have perfected that has me allowing a bull to get close, then running to the top panel of the corrals, holding myself horizontally as the bull runs underneath. I’m in control, hopefully. Either way it turns out, the crowd enjoys it.”
When asked what his highlights of his experience were, he wholeheartedly affirmed that having his kids there and being able to bring them on stage to be a small part of the act, was definitely a highlight for him. Jinks, 10, and Jesse, 9, helped him goof around with the announcers on stage, and bring some extra smiles those watching.
Cooper went from the Stampede to perform at a bull riding event in Czar, Alta., and says he has a couple of other events lined up this summer.
The life of Ash Cooper does not hold a dull moment as the day of this interview he was working on a baler for his ranching operation. He still is active with his artwork as well as breeding and raising the Cooper Clan bucking horses, which he takes to futurity events for marketing.
This summer he was also called upon to be part of the celebrity personality at a chuckwagon racing event in Rocky Mountain House, Alta,, which resulted from his participation in an earlier Gord Bamford celebrity golf tournament.
Part of his past career work included hosting television shows and between that experience and his life experiences, he was recently asked to be a guest speaker for executives at an Alberta Power corporate event. Cooper was asked to speak on resiliency and is very much looking forward to this opportunity, potentially even entertaining (no pun intended) the idea of branching out into this option for the next stage of his career.
“I’ve been asked and approached for multiple speaking engagements, but often there was no particular message to be delivered, I was just talking and sharing humour and life stories. This request certainly lit a fire for the potential to delve into a new creative outlet for me so we will see where this takes me.”
Cooper’s experience in the rural way of life, dealing with multiple adversities thrown his way, his experience in the cowboy way mixed with a flavour of calmness through his artwork, humour, and rodeo chaos, certainly offers a well-rounded personality that would have plenty to offer those in his audience.
You can follow Ash Cooper in his many career paths, on his CrAsh Cooper fan page or his Ash Cooper Art and Ranch Gallery or the Cooper Clan Bucking horse social media pages.