Fort Hays State University's rodeo team is seeing double with identical twin brothers on board this year. Cody and Ty Hamm, Minneapolis freshmen, will compete in saddle bronc riding after signing earlier this spring.
Growing up horseback on a ranch, the Hamm boys never knew a life beyond cowboying. They have ridden horses ever since they could walk, they first picked up a rope at the age of six, and they got on their first broncs at the age of 15.
Cody and Ty have competed alongside each other their whole lives, whether it was pasture roping or bronc busting, so destiny had it that they would go to the same college and rodeo alongside each other there.
"We are always there to pick each other up," said Ty. "If I'm struggling with something, Cody can see what I'm doing wrong and can tell me how to fix it, and I can do the same for him."
"Take his money," retorted Cody with a grin.
Both brothers say rodeo is truly one big family.
"The people who are involved in rodeo are always good to you and will always help you out," said Cody.
"There are no better people than rodeo people," Ty said. "They are always there for you."
The Hamm boys admit that the rodeo road is never easy, but it's always worth the work. Entry fees are often steep, pressuring cowboys to pull a check in order to cover the costs of entering and being on the road.
"There is nothing like writing a hot check and having to make a good ride to cover it," said Ty.
Both brothers competed in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association, each qualifying for the National High School Finals Rodeo twice.
At the NHSFR this summer in Gillette, Wyo., Cody and Ty finished fourth and ninth in the nation, respectively.
But the road to the finals didn't come without adversity.
In January, Ty was roping a colt at the ranch when the horse he was riding started bucking. Ty's hand got caught in the coils of his rope and, in the aftermath, he was left with a mangled hand. He ended up losing half the ring finger of his right hand, the same one he holds his bronc rein with.
Talk about having a hitch in your giddy-up!
"I had to learn how to ride (broncs) again and how to use my hand again," he said.
Ty switched to his left hand so he could finish out the rodeo season.
"I rode left-handed for three months, but now I'm back to right-handed. I'm riding just as good or even better than I was before I lost my finger."
In fact, up until the last performance of the first go-round at the NHSFR, the twins sat first and second in the round, Ty in first and Cody in second.
The twins also competed alongside more than 1,000 other high school cowboys and cowgirls at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Okla. There, Cody finished third, and Ty finished 12th.
FHSU rodeo coach Bronc Rumford said he is pleased to have the Hamm brothers on the team.
"Those boys have a lot of ability and talent and a bright future even beyond college," Rumford said. "And they're good kids. What's exciting about having them on the team is we haven't really had a saddle bronc rider on our team for a number of years. They were sought after by a lot of schools, so that's kind of a feather in our hat."
"I really like the coaches and team members, and FHSU is a good place to get an education," said Cody.
Ty said he feels the same way.
"They are some of the best coaches around. I like everything about the school and the town."
College rodeo better prepare. This Hamm sandwich packs some mighty punches. Cow punches, that is.