Well-known rodeo personality and Senlac rancher, Ash Cooper, who manages the bucking horse herd of the Cooper Clan, was dealt a devastating blow when his father, Jim, discovered a brood mare had been shot in the opening days of September.
The Cooper Clan was founded by Jim Cooper and Cam Cooper, who passed away in an accident in 2011. Cam’s children and Ash became partners in the herd.
The Cooper Clan, who have a stellar reputation for their bucking horse breeding program, say this mare is irreplaceable.
The Cooper Clan’s bucking horses have been top sellers in Las Vegas for several years. This particular mare is rare because every single colt of hers became a great bucker; which is almost unheard of in the bucking horse industry.
Cooper says this horse, in their herd of 150, was the most valuable they had because of her offspring.
Sentimental value is another reason this loss hits the family so hard. It was purchased by Cam Cooper. Ash says his brother bought this mare as a fillie at an auction and it exceeded every expectation they had for her. Her offspring have bucked at the NFR, Calgary Stampede and many other top rodeos across North America.
There is no insurance on this animal as the cause of death was not due to predatory animals. Cooper says that horses aren’t usually by themselves and their colts are never far from their mothers, so he is doubtful it is case of mistaken identity.
Cooper says, “We live off the beaten path. Even though our land is, and always has been, posted that no hunting is allowed due to the mares and colts that inhabit it, this still happened. It is always a concern at this time of year, wondering if something like this is going to happen. And, this incident wasn’t even in a hunting season.”
Cooper adds, “It’s unfortunate but it seems like small towns don’t always attract the best kind of people.”
Therefore, there is a need for a group effort in keeping an eye out for each other in that area, and is something the neighbours have revisited with urgency.
With 150 horses, ranchers like the Coopers have to rely on common sense and respect from hunters, as well as “neighbourhood watch” when it comes to rural property crime.
With one of the better breeding programs in the world for bucking horses, often sought after from contractors looking to purchase bucking stock, Cooper says the value of this herd is hard to measure.
It is difficult to measure the time, sweat, tears, hard work and sentimental value that go into building and maintaining a herd like this. The Cooper Clan’s herd has now been passed on through the generations from dad, Jim, to son Cam, and now Cam’s children and his brother, Ash and his children.
This is why the Cooper Clan are putting up a $1,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the person or persons responsible for this criminal act.