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Garrett Shadbolt, while the holder of an outstanding name, does not make our list but looks cool on the back of a bucking bronc.

The rough-and-tumble world of rodeo has no shortage of big moments. Bucking bulls, blasted barrels, brink-of-the-break roping – dust will fly no matter the night. 

The Cody Stampede brings together some of the biggest names in rodeo to compete for thousands in prizes. And I do mean that in the literal sense–Lightning Aguilera, Codi Anne Judkins–these are some heavy-hitting names.

Names are important in rodeo history. Rough stock carry monikers like Cannon and Black Eye, tough and mean names that are supposed to strike fear in the hearts of the cowboys.

Others strut around boasting names like Blue Velvet or one of my personal favorites, Lloyd, that are supposed to draw competitors into a false sense of security. 

Cowboys have long had a tradition of great names, from Texas Jack Omohundro to Connie Douglas Reeves to our own William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the founder of this paper.

It’s something that is rooted in cowboy culture almost as much as the Spaghetti Westerns would have us believe that spittoons and bandanas are. 

Because of how incredible the names were at the Stampede, I took the liberty of conducting a highly scientific, definitely 100% definitive ranking of the top cowboy and cowgirl names from the four-day competition. 

The Method

Determining the best name in rodeo is no small task (not the least because the Stampede had over 300 contestants). Here’s how the rankings were determined:

Cowboy Image: Does the name sound like it should be said while an Ennio Morricone (honestly, he should be an honorable mention) score plays over the backdrop of a setting sun? If it does, you’ll see high scores in this category. 

Uniqueness: Extra Ys? Check. Names we’re not used to hearing (sorry to the 20 million Joshs in the world)? Check. If the name is unusual, more points will be given. Like in judging the rough stock events, half the points will come from the first name and half from the last. 

Scrabble Score: The X-Factor. How many points would you get if you played this name in a game of Scrabble? Because there is so much variation in the length of names and how much of an effect that has on the score value, each contestant will be scored based on the highest point value of either their first or last name. 

The top names were entered into an Excel spreadsheet and the scores tabulated there. Uniqueness and Cowboy Image were both rated on a scale of 0-100, to prevent outsized influence from the Scrabble bonus points. No consideration was given to their overall performance in the rodeo. Slack contestants were excluded from this list. 

Note: you’ll find more men than women on this list. Rodeos typically have about a 5:1 male-female competitor ratio. That’s reflected in the number represented in this list. 

 

The Top 25

#23. Codi Anne Judkins (tie)

Cowgirl Score: 90

Uniqueness Score: 90

Scrabble Score: 19

Total: 199

Cody is the Rodeo Capital of the World. If there wasn’t at least one cowboy (or cowgirl, in this case) named Cod(i) on this list, the whole methodology would have had to have been thought about for longer than five minutes. Note the big bonus points for “Judkins.” Never underestimate the power of Scrabble. 

 

#23. Ruger Piva (tie)

Cowboy Score: 95

Uniqueness Score: 95 

Scrabble Score: 9

Total: 199

When your name is literally a firearm brand, you either born to be a cowboy or a soldier. Ruger Piva slides into a tie for last with this outstanding name. He would have ranked higher, but short names don’t usually generate a lot of points in Scrabble. Sorry, Ruger. 

 

#23. Spur Lacasse (tie)

Cowboy Score: 95

Uniqueness Score: 95

Scrabble Score: 9

Total: 199

Spurring is one of the most important things a cowboy does, rodeo or not. Because spurring is so integral to what a cowboy does, it’s almost cliche, and Lacasse loses 5 points here, but gains full points for the outstanding last name of Lacasse. Ultimately, short names with lots of low-point letters hurt Lacasse’s overall ranking. 

 

#20. Keyla Polizello (tie)

Cowgirl Score: 85

Uniqueness Score: 95

Scrabble Score: 20

Total: 20 

Keyla isn’t the first name I would think of when out on the ranch, but any time you can throw a Z into a word in Scrabble, you’re going to boost your score. 

 

#20. Catfish Brown (tie)

Cowboy Score: 100

Uniqueness Score: 85

Scrabble Score: 15

Total: 200

Yes, that’s really his name, said the announcer when Catfish Brown took the arena to tie down a calf. An outstanding name gets top marks in the Cowboy Image category, but the commonplace last name “Brown” hurts his overall finish. 

 

#20. Tate Kirchenschlager (tie)

Cowboy Score: 80

Uniqueness Score: 90

Scrabble Score: 30

Total: 200

It’s a last name that sounds like a German beer, and German beers are great for boosting Scrabble scores. Tate has the punch to be a solid cowboy name but feels more like a supporting character in a Spaghetti Western than a leading role. 

 

#19. Raelynn Wakley

Cowgirl Score: 90 

Uniqueness Score: 95 

Scrabble Score: 16

Total: 201

Wakley probably should have been higher on this list, but a lower Scrabble score hurts her average and seats her firmly outside the top 10. 

 

#14. Taos Muncy (tie)

Cowboy Score: 95

Uniqueness Score: 95 

Scrabble Score: 12

Total: 202

Just remarkable. Muncy held the top spot in the rankings for a while until the Scrabble scores were calculated. Even with a Y in the last name, it wasn’t enough to push him into the winners circle. 

 

#14. Brooks Dahozy (tie)

Cowboy Score: 90 

Uniqueness Score: 90 

Scrabble Score: 22

Total: 202

Another case of a Z doing the heavy lifting, Brooks Dahozy catapulted up the boards when his Scrabble score was activated. Extra points were given for the added S in “Brooks.” 

 

#14. Coburn Bradshaw (tie)

Cowboy Score: 90 

Uniqueness Score: 95 

Scrabble Score: 17

Total: 202

What is there to say about the name Coburn? I don’t know, but it’s great name to call over the plains. Give it a try. 

 

#14. Jacobs Crawley (tie)

Cowboy Score: 90 

Uniqueness Score: 95 

Scrabble Score: 17

Total: 202

There’s something about adding an S to a name that often doesn’t have one that just adds some oomph (and points in the tally). 

 

#14. Jayco Roper (tie)

Cowboy Score: 90 

Uniqueness Score: 95 

Scrabble Score: 17

Total: 202

With a last name like Roper, you’re pretty much destined for life on a ranch. Sharing a first name with a camper company hurt his overall Cowboy score. 

 

#11. Boudreaux Campbell (tie)

Cowboy Score: 90

Uniqueness Score: 95

Scrabble Score: 19

Total: 204

Add an X and climb the boards. Unusual letters are a surefire way to boost your Scrabble score, and Boudreaux Campbell hit the double letter score here. 

 

#11. Maverick Potter (tie)

Cowboy Score: 95 

Uniqueness Score: 90

Scrabble Score: 19

Total: 204

There’s something fitting about a cowboy named Maverick. Something, something, freedom and danger zones. 

 

#11. Taryn Boxleitner (tie)

Cowgirl Score: 90 

Uniqueness Score: 95

Scrabble Score: 19

Total: 204 

Taryn offers too many good pun opportunities to be ignored as high-quality cowgirl name. Boxleitner pushes her over the edge thanks to the Scrabble score. 

 

#8. Roscoe Jarboe (tie)

Cowboy Score: 95

Uniqueness Score: 95 

Scrabble Score: 15

Total: 205

Roscoe Jarboe would be the perfect name for an auctioneer in the Old West. In the New West, it fits perfectly for a cowboy. 

 

#8. Denver Roy (tie)

Cowboy Score: 100 

Uniqueness Score: 95

Scrabble Score: 10

Total: 205

The first 100 in the top 10 on this list, there is literally nothing that screams Western more than having the first name Denver (well, if you’re from East of the Mississippi, like me). Roy is hurt by a low Scrabble score and fairly common last name. 

 

#8. Tuf Cooper (tie)

Cowboy Score: 100 

Uniqueness Score: 95

Scrabble Score: 10

Total: 205

The one that inspired this list. Tuf Cooper won All-Around Cowboy at the Stampede this year, but a common last name keeps him from winning the best-in-show prize of absolutely nothing here. 

 

#7. Manny Egusquiza, Jr. 

Cowboy Score: 75

Uniqueness Score: 95

Scrabble Score: 36

Total: 206

There is no one who benefited more in this pointless ranking than Manny Egusquiza, Jr. The uniqueness is top-notch, the only Manny and the only junior on this list. Throw in a Q and a Z in his last name? That’s a triple-word score away from being game. Set. Match. 

 

#6. Sage Steele Kimzey

Cowboy Score: 90

Uniqueness Score: 95 

Scrabble Score: 24

Total: 209

Three-namers got automatic bonus points for uniqueness, but the perfect combination of Sage (a great name for a cowboy, especially in Wyoming where sagebrush runs rampant) and a Z in the last name vault Kimzey into the top 10. 

 

#4. Landon Beardsworth (tie)

Cowboy Score: 95

Uniqueness Score: 95 

Scrabble Score: 20

Total: 210

The beard was worth 20 points in the Scrabble scores and catapulted Beardsworth into the top 5.

 

#4. Oaklie Sanders (tie)

Cowgirl Score: 100 

Uniqueness Score: 100

Scrabble Score: 10

Total: 210

If I had to pick a perfect cowgirl name, I don’t know that I could do better than Oaklie Sanders. The name gives off shades of legendary Old West sharpshooter Annie Oakley, and there’s something just undeniably cool here. Unfortunately, commonly used letters aren’t enough to overcome some of the others on this list. 

 

#2. Lightning Aguilera (tie)

Cowboy Score: 100

Uniqueness Score: 100

Scrabble Score: 14

Total: 214

I know what you’re thinking. How in the world could Lightning Aguilera not be the top name??? How could it possibly get better from here? This is the trouble with using a set system to rank the names. Aguilera is deserving of a top spot, but Hasbro has judged otherwise. A tie for second will have to do. 

 

#2. Phoenix Everano (tie)

Cowboy Score: 95

Uniqueness Score: 100

Scrabble Score: 19

Total: 214

Rising up from the ashes with an X to take his place in the second spot, Phoenix Everano has to be one of the great cowboy names ever and I’m pretty sure that there is a character who shares that name in more than one Spaghetti Western. 

 

#1. Rooster Yazzie

Cowboy Score: 90

Uniqueness Score: 100 

Scrabble Score: 27

Total: 217

This is it. This is where the Scrabble score makes all the difference. A double-Z? That alone is worth 20 points. And let’s be honest about this: Rooster is an iconic name. He takes the top spot this year in the name rankings by a feather. 

Which name was your favorite? How would you have ranked them? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

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