By Ted Harbin/for the Waller County Fair & Rodeo
HEMPSTEAD, Texas – Winn Ratliff won a share of the bareback riding championship at last year’s Waller County Fair and Rodeo.
He’d like to win it all this year. On Oct. 3, during the rodeo’s second performance, the Louisiana cowboy rode Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Cimmaron for 86 points to take the lead. He’ll await Saturday’s final show to see how he finishes the weekend.
“My first horse was a Pete Carr horse called Blue Smoke,” said Ratliff, who will compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this coming December for the second time in three years. “Every once in a while, he’ll throw a little fit, and tonight he decided he didn’t want to perform, so we decided to give him a break and give me a re-ride.
“I had some history with Cimmaron and knew him real well. He’s a real nice horse and just circled around to the left. He’s real showy, and I just tried to do my part by making a strong ride.”
It worked. Ratliff may have been assisted by the 8-Second Bareback Shootout, a head-to-head match between Clint Cannon of Waller, Texas, and Richmond Champion of The Woodlands, Texas, both of whom are NFR qualifiers. Though it wasn’t part of the ProRodeo, it was a highlighted event in which both cowboys put on exceptional rides.
“It definitely helps when you see two of the top guys make jam-up rides,” said Ratliff of Leesville, La. “It makes you want to show out. I’m thankful I could see that. It definitely got my riding juices flowing.”
The 25-year-old cowboy finished the 2014 regular season ninth in the world standings, having earned $73,039. With this being the first week of the 2015 season, he was excited to get off to a good start.
“September was a tough month, because I wasn’t drawing good and just wasn’t riding good,” Ratliff said. “Toward the end and to now, my confidence has shot back really high. My year’s been a blessing; I just tried to keep my priorities in line and not take anything for granted, because we’re never promised tomorrow.”
He is in great shape to collect a nice payday in Hempstead.
“Last night I was at my hometown rodeo, and I kind of choked,” he said. “I came over here and knew I needed to redeem myself.”
Courtesy of PRCA