Photo credit: Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media
He has more than earned his athletic bragging rights; but, telling him it’s OK to boast would be like telling grass it doesn’t need to be green. He is the epitome of a humble champion.
Thanks to Murdoch’s relationship with Wrangler, I got to chat with this all-star cowboy. Lostroh recounted several chapters of his professional and personal life from his ranch outside of Greeley, CO. Currently on the injured list, he is taking time to rehab his body, work on his ranch and spend time with his beloved wife, Candace, and their daughters, Sheridan and Odessa. Let’s just say, the pleasure was all mine…
Lostroh has been endorsed by Wrangler for over a decade. “Wrangler’s been with me my whole career, and I sure appreciate it,” he said of their relationship. Even before Wrangler sponsored him, Lostroh was a fan. “I wear Wrangler jeans every day of my life.” When it comes to riding, his favorite are the George Strait shirts, saying, “I never ride in anything else.”
While he’s been a champion and celebrity cowboy for years, Lostroh remembers his humble beginnings as a bull rider. He’s been riding since age eight. And learning to ride was something different than learning to be a professional cowboy. “I didn’t know for a long time that I’d be able to make a living. When I began, I was terrible with a capital T.”
Insisting he wasn’t a natural at bull riding, he told the story of a friend’s father who once said, “Kody, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you stay on one.” After a lot of practice and getting bucked off a lot of times, that same friend’s father later revised his statement: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you bucked off one, Kody.” Lostroh chuckled as he remembered this story, saying, “Of course, we know that’s not true.”
I asked Lostroh to let his fans in on some of his bull-riding secrets. “There’s a fair amount of technique. It takes a lot of practice, except unlike riding a bike, there’s a lot more danger. You could die.” While this sounds like it could be a joke, it isn’t. Lostroh says that compartmentalizing the very real danger and fear of injury is part of becoming a successful rider. “You put the danger out of your head. The mental game separates the good riders from the great riders.”
The mental game of bull riding isn’t limited to danger, as Lostroh detailed: “The majority of a ride, you’re reacting. But if you’re riding like you should, and you’re trained in animal motion, it’s just physics. In all honesty, if you’re riding really well, you can feel the leads and know that the bull’s going to change directions.”
While Lostroh’s accomplishments and impressive knowledge of his sport are obvious, it’s not the trophies that he counts as his greatest accomplishments. “The stuff I remember most is overcoming adversity. In 2009, I injured all the ligaments and tendons in my riding arm. And they said I was done. I didn’t like that a whole lot, so I trusted in God to get me through it, and continued competing. And I ended up winning. I’ll always remember that.” That was the year, of course, that he went on to become PBR World Champion.
At the center of Lostroh’s world is his life as a rancher. Like the men and women he’s proud to call fellow ranchers, he believes in being a good spouse and a good parent, and that good old-fashioned hard work pays off. “Being a bull rider and a rancher, the lifestyle is based on hard work and integrity. I’m just a big believer in hard work. It may not pay off now, but it will eventually. I believe that.”
Knowing that the ranching life is one of hard work, I asked him how many ranch hands he employed in order to keep his ranch operational while on the road. With this question, Lostroh’s tone shifted, as he was now talking about his loving wife and high-school sweetheart, Candace, “She’s my only hand. I couldn’t do it without her.” Together since age 16, Candace and Kody were married in 2006.
Of being a father to daughters Sheridan and Odessa, Lostroh is philosophical, “It’s like anything, it’s a lotta joy and a lotta hard work.” It’s comical, too. “Being a father is bull riding times ten!” Most of all, he speaks of fatherhood and his daughters lovingly, “I won’t always be a bull rider, but I’ll always be a father.”
At the age of 30, Lostroh has accomplished more than most people dream. And while he may not need to prove anything to his many adoring fans, he still has plenty he wants to accomplish. “I’ve accomplished about everything I wanted to do in the PBR, so now I’m competing in the PRCA.”
In preparation for his next chapter, Lostroh is rehabbing his balance after a nasty head injury. The same dogged, competitive spirit that made him a champion cowboy is still evident in his rehab regimen. He’s utilizing exercise/balance balls in his daily workouts. When I asked him how he was using them, he said he’s now able to jump from one ball to another, maintaining his balance, and is working on the ability to do the same with his eyes closed. When I told him it sounded more like the workout of a ninja than a cowboy, Lostroh laughed, conceding only that “I do think my balance is better now than before the injury.”
Bringing our conversation to a close, I asked Lostroh where his inspirational outlook comes from. He replied with characteristic humility and frankness. “You call it inspirational, but the way I look at it, somebody out there always has it worse. They find a way through it, and so can I.”