Northwest of Cortez, there is an area that locals know as Samoraville. In 1929, Jose Samora and his family traded land they owned in Pagosa Junction to other family members for the land here. They have lived there and raised their families there ever since.
Joses great grandson, Cody Samora, is now making a name for himself as a professional bull rider. Cody, son of Peggy and Tommy Samora, is currently the No. 3 ranked bull rider in the world standings of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
There was never any doubt in Codys mind about what he wanted to be, said Codys mother. He started out by tying one stuffed animal astride another and pretending it was riding a bull.
By age 2, Cody would wrap a cord around a sleeping bag that he placed behind a door of their entertainment center. He would then get down on his bull, swing the gate open, and come out riding. When asked what he wanted to be, his reply was always Im going to be a bull rider.
Cody started out on live animals riding sheep in mutton busting events, then calves and steers. By the time he was 11, Cody was riding bulls. He competed in junior rodeos and in the Colorado High School Rodeo Association. He was Reserve Champion at the state high school finals as a senior at Montezuma-Cortez High School.
Cody graduated from M-CHS in 2007 and accepted a rodeo scholarship to Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. In 2008, he took out his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) permit, which is a required first step toward full membership as a Professional Rodeo Cowboy. He filled his permit, meaning he won enough as a contestant to earn his card as a full-fledged member, in less than two years.
Cody broke his wrist in 2009 while competing in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Finals, and was hampered by injuries for the past two years. In 2011, Cody won enough money to qualify for the Mountain States Circuit Finals that year. He also qualified to enter the big winter rodeos this year; the National Western Stock Show in Denver and the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
His first big success this year was in Denver in January. Cody placed fifth in the first round, winning $931. In the second go-around, he didnt score high enough to place, but he made up for it by scoring 90 points (a perfect ride is 100) on a bull named Alligator Roll, winning $1,650. His total score on three bulls was 252, which placed him second in the average and earned him an additional $4,688 for a personal best of $7,269 at a single rodeo.
But personal records are made to be broken. The PRCA Extreme Bulls event in Fort Worth starts before the Stock Show in Denver is finished. Cody was entered and in the first round, he ended up in a four-way tie for second place, winning $1,308. He bucked off his second bull, but his score in round one was high enough for him to place fifth in the average for an additional $714.
But Cody was only getting started. The Fort Worth Stock Show starts the day after the Extreme Bulls competition. Cody rode his first bull in Fort Worth but was out of the money. Then he tied for first-place in the second go-around with an 85-point ride, winning $4,311 and placed third in the finals winning $900 with another 85-point ride. This put him second in the average for an additional $6,155 in winnings. His total winnings for that rodeo were $11,366 and his total for the two Fort Worth events was $13,388!
Cody came up with another 90-point ride and a big win at the La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in February. That ride put him in first-place for the go around and first in the average for total winnings of $6,552 at that rodeo.
Cody started down the road in his pearl white 1996 Cadillac Sedan de Ville Convertible, but he has recently traded in his Caddy for a Dodge diesel with a camper. He usually travels with at least one other contestant as they crisscross the west from rodeo to rodeo. The PRCA rodeo season runs from Oct. 1 of one year through Sept. 30 of the following year and then the National Finals Rodeo is held in the first two weeks of December. With rodeo contestants competing literally year around, the mental and physical demands are substantial. Cody has had his share of injuries, but he has his sights set on making the National Finals in December.
Winning the Ute Mountain Roundup is on his bucket list, but this year his fans in Montezuma County will be rooting for him to win in two back-to-back PRCA Extreme Bulls events followed by the rodeo in Sisters, Ore., which are all the same week as the Ute Mountain Roundup this year. The Ute Mountain Roundup will be June 7, 8 and 9 in the Bob Banks Memorial Arena at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. Tickets are available at First National Bank, Citizens State Bank and IFA Country Store, or you can buy them online at utemountainroundup.com.
Thanks to the PRCA and the ProRodeo Sports News, both of whom contributed to this article.