Last year I was on one of the best rolls of my rodeo career, I got up to 8th in the world, and then I broke my right femur. It was an uphill climb getting back into my familiar feeling out in the arena… truth-be-told, it didn’t come till I battled my demons by reattempting every rodeo I entered the week I broke my leg.
The week started with a ride on a colt in Vernon, TX that led to a re-ride and a 79 point score that held up for fourth. After an all-night drive and some breakneck speeds with Richmond Champion and Taylor Price I rode in Redding, CA, though after Beautiful Disaster had a bad leave from the chute, I ended up out of the money. From Redding I drove to Las Vegas, NV for Helldorado Days to take on Rosser’s Lil Hawk at the rodeo I had won and been crippled at the previous year.
Announcer Boyd Polhamus made sure to set the scene, telling the audience all about the year ending injury that remained vivid in my mind. The other riders at my chute asked me later, “Luke, you usually that nervous in the chute,” “No,” was my reply, but that day I was at my most tense. The pickup men change horses, as I wait, hand in riggin’, in the chute- then with the quick holler, it’s time to ride!
With every rear and kick my spurs rippled up and fired back to the neck, pointy Justin’s, toes East and West fired through the air. Then the whistle blows, and my only thought is the ground here is hard enough to snap one of the most difficult to break bones in the human body. Boyd is commenting over loud speaker, “I’ll breathe easy when this cowboy is safe on the ground.” It felt like an eternity, but when the pickup men set me safely on the ground, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I had a spring in my step like I hadn’t since the injury.
That day I felt the tides begin to turn. My 80 held up for 5th place in Vegas, from there I was 84 for the win in Payson, AZ, and 3rd with an 82 in Luxton, BC to finish out my demon conquering weekend. The next week I was 85 for a split of 1st in Killeen, TX and 79 for 3rd in Bandera, TX. Then I went on to score a personal best 88 for a split of first in Grande Prairie, AB and 83.5 for 2nd in Hand Hills, AB. My 83 held up for 6th in Rocky Mountain House, AB, and just last week I split 1st with an 88 in Weatherford, TX and was 82 for first in Cleburne, TX as well. In a month I climbed from 50th to 25th in the world bareback riding standings. With tons of big rodeos on the horizon, most imminent the infamous Cowboy Christmas run, I can’t help but feel ready to spur down any horse I draw and continue my rise up the ranks.
photo credit: Matt Cohen