Rodeo is one tough sports business, and families often unite to make traveling the circuit more cost- and time-effective.
That was apparent with two world-class competitors at the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo’s Saturday morning performance at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
There was three-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion Will Lowe of Canyon, who turned in an attention-grabbing bareback riding score of 79. Lowe’s wife, Tiffani, also competed in barrel racing during the 10 a.m. performance.
And there was Jean Winters, a former Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racing qualifier who lives near the Panhandle towns of Texline and Dalhart. She turned in a respectable time of 17.19 seconds.
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Winters was accompanied by her son, Brazos, 16, who also competed in bareback riding on Saturday night at the weekly Fort Worth-based Stockyards Championship Rodeo.
Lowe also rode in the Stock Show Rodeo’s 2 p.m. performance, where he turned in a 76, and then in the 7:30 p.m. show, where he posted a 68.
The opportunity to ride three times in one day was ideal for the field of bareback riders. Most of the time, their three prelim rides span over two days at the Stock Show.
“We were lucky,” Lowe said. “A lot of people were asking for these [three] perfs because you do get to come in one day and get it all over with and then you can go somewhere else.”
In between the three rodeo performances Saturday, Lowe, 32, tended to his two sons, Garrett, 5, and Levi, 3.
“It’s a lot of fun when they come,” Lowe said “The boys are good, they’re easy to deal with and they love the rodeo. They like the horses and the bulls.”
Lowe, a 14-time National Finals qualifier, said he thrives on having his wife and children with him.
“In the summer, we get to see each other a lot more when she’s running barrels,” Lowe said. “It’s a lot more enjoyable when you get to see your family and you’re not gone from them three months at a time.”
Rodeo has been a family affair for Winters. She and her husband, Guy, once owned an amateur rodeo firm, a business that they managed for 16 years. They presently tend to cattle that run on wheat pasture.
Winters qualified for the Las Vegas-based National Finals in 2013 after winning the title at the Calgary Stampede in Alberta aboard her gelding, Crickets Peppy Zan.
Today, Winters, 46, often travels to Women’s Professional Rodeo Association competitions accompanied by Brazos. She said she thrives on strong family support.
“It takes sacrifice on everybody’s part,” Winters said. “I didn’t get my WPRA card until I was 40. My son, Brazos, was about 11 or 12 the year I filled my permit and bought my [pro] card. He’s home-schooled, and so that kind of helped out where he could come with me when I needed help. And now he’s old enough to drive, and that makes it even better. Now he’s stout and he can carry my hay bales, my buckets of water and he can even drive for me. So it’s a win-win.”
Brazos Winters, a high school sophomore, is a successful competitor in his own right. Last year, he finished second in bareback riding at the Texas High School Rodeo Finals in Abilene behind Preston Burr of Stratford.
Traveling to rodeos often goes better when at least one family member has learned about auto mechanics. That’s another area where Brazos has been a big help.
“About a week-and-a-half ago, we stopped in Vernon at night and got up for breakfast the next morning and my pickup started messing up,” Jean Winters said. “After we ate breakfast, we got back in the pickup, and we used our machines that identify the problem. Brazos looked at the codes, then he crawls under the pickup and fixes it, cranks it up and it’s run good since.”