A family affair: Ford brothers, cousin come home to Greeley Stampede
It is time for the Ford boys to head back home, but don’t expect a long family reunion.
Brothers Heath and Jarrod Ford and their cousin Royce Ford have all made Weld County their home at one time or another, and the three rodeo cowboys will make their annual trek back to the area to participate in the Greeley Stampede rodeos.
However, they won’t be together long as they head all over the country scrambling to earn as much money as possible over the busy Fourth of July weekend for a rodeo cowboy.
In fact, it will be all business for all three as they hope for a big payday at the Stampede, the world’s largest Fourth of July rodeo. It would go a long way towards vaulting all of them into the top 15 in the world standings. That is where they must be in order to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in November.
Last year, Heath and Royce qualified for the WNFR, but currently all three of the Ford boys are on the outside looking in. In bareback riding, Royce, who lives in Briggsdale, is sitting 31st in the world standings with $13,136 while his cousin Heath, now living in Elkhart, Texas, is 34th in the standings in the same event ($12,252).
Jarrod, the only one of the three that currently lives in Greeley, is 27th in the bull riding with $21,294.
Last year, Heath finished eighth in the world standings ($146,401) and took seventh at the WNFR ($27,736) after placing in three rounds.
However, it has been a rougher road this year.
“This year has been a whole different year,” Heath said. “I started off last year doing real good and had a jump on them and this year I am going to have to kind of fight from the back to make the finals. But every year I have made the finals, I kind of slowed down when I got there. So maybe this year I can progress slowly in there and have a good WNFR this year.”
Heath knows a big payday at the Stampede would help him reach that goal.
“For sure,” Heath said. “I have won it before (2006), and it is the favorite win I have ever had at a rodeo because it was my hometown rodeo and I grew up watching it and going to it and I am excited to go again. And hopefully we can get a good check out of it.”
Royce hopes for the same thing. He had an excellent season a year ago as finished 13th in the world standings ($100,064) and 15th at the WNFR ($31,146). He won round four at the WNFR with an 87-point ride and placed in three other rounds, but missed the last four rounds after fracturing his lower right leg.
“It is a disappointing thing, but it is hard to ride a bareback horse with one leg,” Royce said. “You just kind of have to deal with it and move on.”
He had to miss the National Western Stock Show in Denver earlier this year because of the leg, which is fine now. He is hoping the Stampede will be as kind to him as it has been in the past.
“That rodeo has always been good to me,” Royce said. “I usually place no less than third or fourth. It is my hometown rodeo, too, but I don’t get to spend much time at home when I am there. I ride and then I fly to Springdale, Ark., on that night and then hopefully fly back to Greeley and ride in the short-round the next day.”
While Royce and Heath have enjoyed success at the Stampede, Jarrod has not had much success here. Still, Jarrod looks forward to competing in his rodeo.
“I am always excited to go to Greeley and my hometown rodeo,” Jarrod said. “I have never done any good at it, but sooner or later it is bound to change.”
Sooner would be better for Jarrod. He finished 29th in the bull riding world standings with $37,616 last year and didn’t make the WNFR. He knows he will have some work to do in order to qualify this year.
“I need to get in some pretty good checks in here pretty fast to get back up and have a chance at (the WNFR),” Jarrod said. “I am not too far off before I could get in there with a couple good wins.”
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