Bloomfield resident competes on reality TV program 'Ultimate Cowboy Showdown'

Sal Campos makes living as cowboy despite being born without left hand

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • The new season of "Ultimate Cowboy Showdown" will premiere on the INSP network Thursday, April 21.
  • Sal Campos is one of more than a dozen contestants on the program.
  • The winner will earn a herd of cattle worth at least $50,000.

FARMINGTON — If you ask Sal Campos how he settled into the life of being a working cowboy — something he has managed to pull off despite being born without a left hand — it sounds as if it's more like that life chose him.

"I knew I wanted to be a cowboy all my life. It's the only thing I ever wanted to do," said the Bloomfield resident who is competing on the third season of the INSP network's reality series "Ultimate Cowboy Showdown."

Campos and more than a dozen other cowboys and cowgirls from around the United States are battling each other through a 10-episode season for the right to claim victory and earn a herd of cattle worth at least $50,000. The new season will premiere on Thursday, April 21.

According to a news release issued by the network, the competitors will square off in a series of challenges each week, with contestants being eliminated one by one until the winner stands alone. The series is set in Douglas, Wyoming, a small community off Interstate 25 between Casper and Cheyenne.

Bloomfield's Sal Campos is one of more than a dozen cowboys competing for honors on the reality TV series "Ultimate Cowboy Showdown" on INSP.

Campos certainly has his eye on winning that herd of cattle, but he already seems satisfied with the simple life he has chosen, which affords him a great deal of personal autonomy and the chance to live a lifestyle that most Americans only glimpse in Hollywood Westerns.

"The biggest thing for me is, I get to live like they did back in the day," he said. "There's that freedom. … I just like to hold on to that."

Campos works a profession that reached its height nearly 200 years ago. After graduating from Valencia High School in Las Lunas, he made his way to Albuquerque for a few years, then moved to Bloomfield to work at a feedlot. These days, he hires out as a day hand or shoes horses at local ranches.

Bloomfield resident Sal Campos hasn't let being born without a left hand keep him from becoming a working cowboy.

He also used to compete in rodeos, but Campos makes a distinction between rodeo cowboys and working cowboys like himself.

"There are a lot of rodeo cowboys, but ranch cowboys are real cowboys," he said.

What's the difference?

"It's a lot harder to make a living out of it," he said of the path he has chosen. "But when I wake up in the morning, I get to do whatever I want."

The contestants on the third season of INSP's "Ultimate Cowboy Showdown," including Bloomfield's Sal Campos, third from right on the bottom row, are competing to win a herd of cattle worth at least $50,000.

Campos considers himself good at all the basic skills required for the events on "Ultimate Cowboy Showdown," so he said he didn't prepare for the competition in any special way. If he does emerge from the third season as the winner, he already is making plans for how to accommodate that herd, since he doesn't own his own ranch.

"I know enough people that I'd be able to do it by putting five (head) here and five there," he said.

As much as he loves the cowboy life, Campos has seen enough of the business side of cattle operations to know he does not aspire to have his own spread.

"I don't want to be able to have a ranch," he said. "They don't make a lot of money."

While he might keep a few head of cattle on a lease somewhere, Campos said he most likely would sell most of the herd and continue working for other folks. And win or lose, he said he enjoyed his time as a competitor on "Ultimate Cowboy Showdown," which already has wrapped this season's shooting.

"It was a good experience," he said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription: