Brazilian Rookie Gio Piloto’s Finding His Way in the PRCA
Meet Brazilian Resistol Rookie of the Year Contender Gio Piloto.
Gio Piloto dismounts to tie a calf during the 2024 Resistol Rookie Roundup.
Gio Piloto dismounts to tie a calf during the 2024 Resistol Rookie Roundup. Photo by Gale Miller.

Gio Piloto is a Resistol Rookie of the Year Contender slowly building momentum with a good horse underneath him and a “brother” in fellow Brazilian Marcos Costa.

Currently sitting No. 9 in the Rookie standings, the two-time Texas Circuit Finalist is focusing on “keeping his mentality right” heading into summer. caught up with Piloto before he heads West to Greeley and Reno for a stab at the big summer bucks.

CR: Tell us about where you grew up in Brazil and what your life was like.

GP: “I’m from Botucatu, San Paulo, Brazil. I grew up living in town to a family that was not into horses too much. My dad had some reining horses as a hobby. He was a professional Judo fighter and I did that a little too, but I was always in love with horses. My dad started letting me run barrels when I was 6 or 7, but I always wanted to rope. All my friends team roped, so I wanted to, too. But my dad said calf roping was more athletic and it was just up to you. He gave me an NFR DVD from 2008, and I watched Cody Ohl. I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ The first time I roped a calf I fell in love. I loved the sound of the rope and every aspect of calf roping. From day one, I knew I wanted to calf rope for the rest of my life.”

What’s the calf roping community like over in Brazil?

Calf roping is growing a lot in Brazil, since I moved over here. It’s been 5 years since I’ve been back. But it seems like there are a lot more places to go now—and there is a lot of talent in Brazil.

What have these last 5 years looked like for you?

When I first came over I went to work for Blair Burk. He’s the one who invited me to come over there. I lived with him for about a year and did some amateur rodeos. I did ok, but I had to learn how to shoe horses because my roping wasn’t going as I expected. I couldn’t [make a living] as a roper, so I had to find ways to work. Then I stayed with Shane Hanchey for 6 months, and then I went to Marcos Costa. And that guy has changed my life. He’s taught me so much about training a horse. He’s taught me so much inside and outside the arena. He’s a big brother to me. I have been there for about 3 years.

Horsemanship wise, what are some of the things you’ve learned?

There are two kinds of horse training. There is training to start horses, and horse training to tune your horse up and keep them sharp. And I knew how to tune one up… change some bridles and stuff… but as far as training one, knowing when to push and when to back off, I learned so much of that from Marcos. He’s so good with a young horse.

Tell us about your horse.

His name is Hollywood. He’s 8 or 9 years old. Marcos bought him as a 3-year-old and I had been riding another horse in the amateur rodeos. But that horse got sick, and Marcos was gone to the summer rodeos and said I could ride him. Marcos said ‘Take good care of him, because that’s my next horse.’ I started taking him to some amateurs and ended up making the CPRA Finals where we won the average. In 2022 I made the Texas Circuit Finals on him, and in 2023 I won Abilene on him and made the Circuit Finals again. He’s very special. He’s tough and super honest. It doesn’t matter how he’s feeling, he’s going to try his best. I ended up buying him in the middle of 2023, but Marcos can get on any time he needs.

Gio Piloto and "Hollywood" make a good pair. The horse was originally Marcos Costa's, but after Piloto got to ride him for the summer, he knew he had to buy him.
Gio Piloto and “Hollywood” make a good pair. The horse was originally Marcos Costa’s, but after Piloto got to ride him for the summer, he knew he had to buy him. CR File Photo

What made you think, ‘2024 is my Rookie year?’

I’ve made the Texas Circuit Finals the last 2 years over here. I still didn’t feel totally ready, but mentally and roping-wise I am ready. I decided to get off my permit, buy my card and see how it goes. I haven’t had much luck in the beginning of the year, I didn’t draw good at some places and didn’t do my job at others, but I had some good moments. I finished No. 2 at the RFA Futurity and won the Shootout.

What’s you plan for the rest of the year?

I am going to go some. I am going to Greeley and Reno. I’m not going to hit everywhere but I am going to try to keep the momentum going. As a roper I think my strong suit is my mentality. I have learned how to lose and I don’t let it bother me much. I think that’s what separates you from the pack. I think if you keep the mentality right, things can change for the better quick.