Tilden Hooper Talks Riggin’ Rallies and Landing a Role on Yellowstone

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PHOTOS: FROM RFD-TV’S THE AMERICAN | MACI BERRY PHOTOGRAPHY

Outside of the arena, six-time NFR qualifier Tilden Hooper has been spending his spare time dabbling in event production and acting on-screen.

“You never know what being at the right place at the right time may do for you”

THE COWBOY CHANNEL: Recently we’ve seen you on the popular Paramount series Yellowstone, tell us how you landed that gig.

TILDEN HOOPER: It all started as part of my friendship with Kaycee Feild. He introduced me to the Steiner’s who, in turn, were part of the show and introduced Kaycee and I to Taylor Sheridan, the producer. Kaycee, myself and a couple of other experienced PRCA bronc riders auditioned, and I ended up with the part.

TCC: How intense was the audition?

TH: They sent us the lines, and then Kaycee and I just acted the scene out to one another on video. We sent in the videos, and I got the call.


TCC: Would you pursue acting if your exposure on Yellowstone led to another opportunity.

TH: Yes, it was a cool experience. I’d love to do it again. The scene I was in, we shot it 30 times before it was just right. It’s neat to see all of the moving parts and how everything works.

TCC: 2020 has had its share of ups and downs for rodeo contestants and limiting the number of opportunities for athletes to make a living. Tell us about your involvement in the Riggin Rally events.

TH: Being friends with the Steiner’s, over the last year or so we’ve talked about having a stand-alone bareback riding event. When COVID hit, it gave us the perfect opportunity to put up a bunch of money and have the best of the best come and ride the best stock in the business.

TCC: Were you a part of the planning and production of Riggin Rally?

TH: Yes, and it came together really fast. Before I became involved, I thought about event production once my riding career closed in. Watching sponsors and athletes alike jump on board to be a part of the event was humbling.


PHOTO: STEINER RANCH RIGGIN RALLY | STEVE WRUBEL

“Rodeo is a special Sport, it gets its hooks in ya and you want to figure out how to keep playing the game for as long as you can”

TCC: The second Riggin Rally event is happening in Darby, MT, on Labor Day weekend. How has the event progressed since the first event was held in Weatherford, TX earlier this year?

TH: We paid out $40,000 and had 16 guys who competed at the Texas event. In Montana, we were able to get a PRCA sanction, so the money counts toward our world standings, we are taking the top 24 in the world, and we will pay out the same amount of money.

TCC: As a bareback rider, what makes Riggin Rally so good for your sport?

TH: The timing of the event was good, because rodeos were being cancelled and it gave us the opportunity to make money. The money was increasingly more than we were told it was going to be due to sponsor participation, etc., and the payout benefited all of the guys that placed, not just first place.

TCC: How important are good horses at these events?

TH: We want to ride the best horses in the world. At the event coming up in Darby, MT they have it formatted to create the most even set of bucking horses for the caliber of riders.

TCC: Will we see more Riggin Rally events in the future?

TH: The Steiner’s are known for quality not quantity. The interest in the event has been amazing. The Weatherford event will progress to be annual for sure.


PHOTO: STEINER RANCH RIGGIN RALLY | STEVE WRUBEL

TCC: Are stand-alone events the future of Rodeo?

TH: I personally like the tournaments style format; one, it allows for an even set of horses and it helps the judges and what they are up against. There is no cookie cutter format for rodeos, I think that the different opportunities like The American, etc. are all paving the way for advancement. I didn’t grow up in a rodeo family and haven’t been doing it since I was itty bitty, I grew up a rodeo fan. My best friend is a tie-down roper, I haul with Kaycee Feild, Sid Steiner is a steer wrestler, rodeo is marketable and a special sport. With The Cowboy Channel on board and giving us the opportunity to package new events for TV, setting ourselves up to make stars of the athletes is what will help the sport.

TCC: You grew up a rodeo fan, when did you become interested in becoming a rodeo athlete?

TH: One of the first connections I made was with Terry Williams, who is a five-time PBR Stock Contractor of the year. His son and I are the same age and went to the same high school. I started hanging out with their family. Terry encouraged me to go to a school on Thanksgiving at Stace Smith’s ranch when I was 16. I met Wes Stevenson, Will Lowe, and Tom McFarland.


TCC: What has the sport of rodeo given you?

TH: Rodeo has given me so much. The relationships alone are irreplaceable. Kaycee Feild is one of my best friends. We started hauling together in 2008. That friendship lead me to have Lewis Field as an influence. My wife is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I met her through a rodeo connection. The Steiner family and my relationship there has led me to pursue a career after my riding career. The guys that don’t utilize the relationships and network they build within the sport are the guys who are miserable when they have to try and pursue something afterwards. Iron sharpens Iron.

TCC: What’s your favorite thing about rodeo?

TH: That I am able to give back to the sport and do it because I want to make it better for the future of rodeo. Rodeo cowboys and cowgirls are the salt of the earth. We are hardworking, praise God, and can lead by influence.

TCC: What’s next for you?

TH: Right now, I’ve got my head down and am focused on winning a World Championship. I love riding bucking horses now more than ever before. I enjoyed the acting, and I am really excited about my future in event production. I expect big things!

Along with the other Top 24 Bareback Riders in the World Standings, Tilden competed at the Yellowstone Riggin’ Rally in Darby, Montana, on Labor Day — placing second overall with a 92-point ride in the final round and adding $6,200 to his season earnings. The Yellowstone Riggin’ Rally will air on The Cowboy Channel this Sunday, September 13, at 1PM and 7PM ET!

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Meet the NFR Athletes is Presented by Montana Silversmiths
Meet the NFR Athletes are Presented by Montana Silversmiths
Meet the NFR Athletes is presented by Montana Silversmiths
Meet the NFR Athletes is presented by Montana Silversmiths
Meet the NFR Athlete is presented by Montana Silversmiths
Meet the NFR Athletes is presented by Montana Silversmiths
Meet the NFR Athlete is presented by Montana Silversmiths
Meet the NFR Athlete is presented by Montana Silversmiths