Author: Champ Robinson
Cody Kiser always had a fascination with the rodeo. The 25-year-old out of Carson City, Nevada competed in the high school rodeo as a bull rider, but Kiser used that term loosely.
“I was more of a bull getter-oner than a bull rider,” Kiser joked. “I had a bad tendency of holding onto the rope until the very last second.”
This time, that bad habit would cause significant injuries during a high school rodeo competition when Kiser was 14.
“I hit the ground and I don’t know if I was on my chest or my back, but one foot (of the bull) landed on my face and the other on my chest or back,” Kiser said.
The impact of the bull crushed Kiser’s left side of his face that broke his hinge bone and jaw bone and shattered his cheek bone. Kiser had to undergo plastic surgery to fix the injuries which required two plates and eight screws to be inserted to do so. Kiser spent a year recovering from the accident before returning to riding – this time horses.
“Riding bucking horses was something I always wanted to do,” Kiser said. “My dad (P.D. Kiser), that’s actually what he did. I thought I’d give that a go and turns out I was a little better at it and now I’m here today.”
When Kiser returned to riding, the nerves were there, but in a good way.
“I think I was more excited than anything,” Kiser said. “Sure, you get nervous, but you can’t think about that. You can’t think about getting hurt. You got to think about winning and doing your best. Think about staying positive.”
Having competed in the PRCA for the past five years, this will mark only the second time Kiser has participated in the California Rodeo Salinas.
“The first time I was here was probably three years ago or so. I think I was on my permit still, so I was still new to the PRCA rodeo and I was just awestruck by the rodeo and the guys I was riding with.
“It was just a mind-blowing experience. Now I’m here this year, I’m excited. I got a good horse that I’m excited to get on and I’m just ready to go.”
Kiser said the stuff he’s learned in his five years in the PRCA has helped him improve as a bareback bronc rider tremendously.
“I’m able to break down my rides and think through what I did wrong and what I can do right next time. What I did really good and focus on that and move on for the next one and just have fun most of all and see all of these amazing places.”
When preparing for a run at an event, Kiser said there’s little time for thinking once the gate opens.
“It’s more of a reaction,” Kiser said. “I trained for this and mentally try to get myself prepared before I get on the horse where I can just relax and react to what the horse does.”
Kiser said he’s seen some success during his time in the PRCA, but the greatest accomplishment to him is outside of the arena as a spokesperson for the Oral Cancer Foundation.
“It’s just been a crazy experience to be a part of the Oral Cancer Foundation and help out with the message that they try to get out there,” Kiser said. “That’s one of the things I’m really proud of.
“There’s been some rodeo wins here and there over the years, but being a part of that is something I’ll never forget.”
Kiser said he became involved with the Oral Cancer Foundation through a classmate at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“Her sister works for the Oral Cancer Foundation and they were looking for a cowboy that didn’t smoke or chew,” Kiser said. “I ended up talking to the founder Brian Hill and one thing led to another and it’s just been a great partnership ever since then.
“It just kind of fell into my lap. I’m just the luckiest guy in the world really.”
Kiser said he’s never personally experienced a family member having to go through a battle with cancer, but credits the way he was raised as to why he decided to take part in this cause.
“I grew up in a family that instilled into me that you don’t want to smoke or chew and if you want to make it far in this game, you got to be an athlete so I just never did that.”