Raised in Milfred, Utah, Rusty grew up in what he describes as your typical close-knit family. His mother was a stay-at-home mom, though she worked hard taking care of the kids, and his father worked shoeing horses and pouring concrete.
Rusty comes from a long bloodline of rodeo competitors. His grandfather was always riding, competing in tie-down roping, team roping, and other rodeo events. His father, Cody Wright, was crowned the saddle bronc World Champion at the Wrangler National Finals in 2008 and 2010. On Rusty’s father’s side of the family, he has six uncles! (Needless to say, his grandmother must be a saint to have had a house full of boys running wild! But fortunately, according to Rusty, they were all well-behaved.) All six of Rusty’s uncles also competed or still compete riding in saddle bronc. His uncle Jesse was the saddle bronc World Champion at the Wrangler National Finals in 2012, and his uncle Spencer was the saddle bronc World Champion at the Wrangler National Finals in 2014. You can see rodeo runs deep in this family!
Aside from having a ton of uncles that rodeo, Rusty has one little sister, Lilly Jo (7), and three younger brothers, Statler (12), Stetson (17), and Ryder (18). All of his brothers ride or compete in the sport of rodeo. Statler currently rides steers; Stetson and Ryder both ride bulls and saddle bronc. Stetson and Ryder are both very competitive within high school rodeo. Last year, Stetson was the National High School Rodeo Saddle Bronc Champion!
“Everyone works very hard in this family. Sometimes people think when the hear the last name ‘Wright’ that everything was handed to us. We each work very hard and must earn our place like everyone else competing in the sport,” Rusty says of his family’s rodeo involvement.
As a young child, Rusty said he wanted to be a bull rider. He rode his first sheep before preschool! Then when he was in first grade, his uncles Jesse and Jake bet him a piece of gum he wouldn’t ride a steer. (He took the challenge and then shared with us that he still has still never received that piece of gum! Jesse and Jake, we think you might be overdue!) It wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that he got on his first bucking horse and never looked back. He says, “After that, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I got really hungry for the sport of rodeo. I watched my dad go from the bottom of the rankings to the top while staying humble. He is a great dad and an awesome bronc rider – the guy I want to be.”
One may think that Rusty, coming from a family so deeply rooted in the sport of rodeo, might have been forced or pushed to ride. However, Rusty made it very clear that his father always lets him and his siblings choose their own paths. Rusty says, “He always said, ‘If you are going to do something, it’s all or nothing. Don’t do anything half-hearted.’” We know Rusty is all in when it comes to saddle bronc! He was the 2015 Resistol Rookie of the Year, the 2015 Wilderness Circuit Finals Year End Champion, and this year’s 2016 RAM National Circuit Finals Champion. His goals are set high as he sits number two in the world standings today. He is seeking a World title however, last week Rusty was badly injured in Bremerton, WA while riding. He suffered a major compound fracture in his leg and is out recovering from having immediate surgery.
Having so many World Champion title holders coming from his own family, we couldn’t help but wonder what advice he must have been given along the way. Rusty’s uncles told him, “Keep it simple. Just because you ride well doesn’t mean you have to complicate it.” His father has always said to him, “Keep your eye on the prize.” Though, we realize Rusty’s sites are set on a World title at the WNFR this year, right now we just wish him a speedy and fast recovery. Get better buddy!
Aside from traveling 286 days out of the year to compete, Rusty enjoys fishing, hunting, playing Xbox, and working with bucking horses. Most recently, he welcomed a son into the world, Rookie Wright. We were fortunate enough to meet little man Rookie at the RNCFR in April!
Rusty had hoped to qualify and return to Kissimmee for the 2017 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Depending on his health he might be able to make it back! Currently he is sitting number two in the Wilderness Circuit behind his younger brother Ryder. Look out Wilderness Circuit – it just might be the battle of the brothers this season!