by Lynn and Cele Seldon
Whether you spend life on the road for pleasure or work, it’s nice to have the comforts of home as you travel the highways and byways. TRAILBLAZER checks in with folks who spend a fair amount of time on the road to see just what makes their home away from home.
This month, we chatted with rodeo team roper and western clothing company owner, Cody Johnson.
We really don’t know where life will take us. For Stephenville, Texas native Cody Johnson, that’s even more true. Growing up in the Lone Star State, he knew his way around rodeos. And it soon became a life-long dream of his to be in the rodeo. He got on a few bareback bronc horses and bulls in junior rodeos as a high schooler. Then he got introduced to team roping in his twenties and the dye was cast.
For those of you who don’t know what team roping is, it’s a competitive rodeo event that features a steer and two mounted riders. The first roper is the ‘header’ and the goal is to rope the front of the steer, usually around the horns. Then, the ‘heeler’ ropes the steer by its hind feet. The origins of team roping are from ranching days, when this was how the cattle were caught to brand or doctor them.
Some twenty years later, Cody is a renowned team roper and set the record for winning the largest World Series of Team Roping jackpot ever in 2013, where more than 513 teams competed. He has also roped in several championship buckles and saddles at some of the most prestigious roping competitions across the country including the Las Vegas World Series Finale, the NTL Finals, and the US Finals. And, several years ago, life took a turn and Cody founded a clothing line with his boutique-owning wife and daughter called Apparel by Twisted J.
Cody still spends more than 200 nights on the road, traveling from rodeo to rodeo in his 2015 Hart Living Quarters horse trailer, while helping to promote the family western apparel line. And he’s made some pretty interesting friends and found some interesting ways to give back along the way. We chatted with Cody by email about his life on the road and more.
Since everyone isn’t familiar with team roping, what can you tell us about it?
Team roping is a real rush of adrenaline. It can be the highest of highs when it all works like it’s supposed to and the lowest of lows when it doesn’t. It’s the only rodeo event where five beating hearts have to work in tune with each other—two ropers, two horses, and one steer. That leaves a lot of room for error. And, it usually all happens in a few seconds, so there’s no time to second guess yourself. You have to love it or it can make you crazy.
A clothing line seems like an odd departure for a rodeo superstar. How did Apparel by Twisted J come about?
My wife and daughter started a boutique a few years back, so we started learning about the fashion industry and decided we wanted to have our own clothing company. With our connections within the western industry we were able to secure some licensing agreements with some of the big rope companies so we started making soft goods for them. At the same time, we began making apparel with our own Twisted J logo on them and people really embraced our brand. Our mainstays are high quality tees, tanks, hoodies, caps, and jackets. It has huge following now, even outside of the western community.
We understand you’ve become quite friendly with Steven Tyler and have joined forces with him on his charitable organization, Janie’s Fund, which helps girls overcome the trauma of abuse and neglect. Tell us more about that.
Through some of our connections, we were presented with the opportunity to sponsor the launch party for Janie’s Fund with a benefit concert in New York City. We already had a deep respect for Steven Tyler as an artist, so when we learned of his passion for helping these girls that had suffered abuse, we knew it was the right project for us. The event is over, but we are still raising money for Janie’s Fund through an exclusive tee that we designed and produced especially for Steven and Janie’s Fund. It can be purchased on our website at www.getalittletwisted.com
You spend most of the year traveling from event to event. Tell us more about your home on the road.
I travel in a 2015 Hart Living Quarters horse trailer pulled by a 2014 Schwalbe Peterbilt truck. The living quarters are 22 feet and has room to sleep four comfortably—five or six if you don’t mind closeness— and has all the amenities of home: two flat-screen TVs, full refrigerator, microwave, and a really big closet. The trailer holds four horses, so we can all take a horse with us, and has a huge tack compartment for all our equipment.
Before we bought this rig, we owned a 43-foot motorhome and pulled a four-horse bumper pull trailer behind it for the horses. That was really great because we could also use it for vacation with the family. So, we’ve stayed at lots of family-friendly RV parks all over the country. We really enjoy RV life whether it’s family vacations or on the rodeo road.
What’s your favorite thing about staying in a motorhome versus a hotel room?
Staying in the trailer allows us to stay right on the grounds where the rodeo/roping event is. That’s where we stall the horses and we like to be close to the animals. Also, it’s a huge convenience to have a place right there in the parking [lot], where you can go and rest during the event.
What are three of your favorite things onboard?
The satellite TVs, the walk-in closet, and the big tack room.
Any favorite destinations?
Las Vegas for the WSTR Finals, because we get to rope for a share of ten million dollars.
Do you do long hauls to get where you are going or do you sightsee along the way?
We normally have to drive straight to the destination because of the horses. It’s not beneficial to have them standing in the trailer any longer than necessary. Once we’re at the destination, depending on event schedule and location, we have been known to do some sightseeing when we can.
What do you like to do onboard?
Most of the time, if it’s not my turn to drive, I’m either sleeping or on the phone doing business or entering more rodeos.
Do you cook onboard?
We don’t cook onboard—didn’t even have a stovetop put in this trailer when we designed it. My wife’s pretty good about fixing some of my favorite things and sending them with me to eat along the way. Other than that, we just eat at restaurants.
Any favorite restaurants along the way?
Cracker Barrel for breakfast is a favorite and pretty much any good steakhouse we come across.
We understand that your bus was recently wrapped in Steven Tyler’s “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere” first-ever solo album artwork. That’s probably turning some heads on the road. How do you feel being wrapped in Steven Tyler?
It’s definitely drawing plenty of attention, but we like attention so we’re enjoying it. And, of course, we’re honored to be associated with Steven.