On the Mend – Royce Ford
“2009 was a good year for me,” explains bareback rider Royce Ford. “I just would have liked to have finished it.”
Ford, who ended last season in the top 15 and qualified for his seventh Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), is referring to the fact his season ended early due to injury. After an 82-point ride aboard Hylo Hills in round six of the WNFR, he broke the fibula of his right leg during the dismount. He was forced to sit out the final four rounds of the finals and wound up 15th in the world standings, with earnings of just over $100,000 for the year.
“It’s great to do what you love,” said Royce, who considers a broken leg nothing more than occupational hazard. “After the finals, I just came home and let it heal,” states Ford. “I’m lucky to live in Colorado where it snows and gets cold in the winter. This gave me an excuse not to go outside for a while.”
Some time indoors allowed Royce the chance to heal and get ready for the 2010 season, which began for him Feb. 12, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas, at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
The time away from the arena proved well-spent. In San Antonio, he started things off with a 75-point ride on Will He Jump or Not from J Bar J Rodeo Company. He then went on to post scores of 78, 74 and 80 in subsequent rounds of the rodeo’s Bracket No. 3 and wound up in a tie for fourth place with cousin Heath Ford. This qualified both for entry into Semifinal No. 1 of the rodeo.
A 76-point score on Three Reasons of Kesler Rodeo prevented Royce from advancing to the final round in San Antonio, but didn’t stop him from heading on to rodeos in Houston, Arcadia (Fla.) and Austin. After posting scores of 74.5 and 71 in the early rounds in Houston, he jumped to the top of the leader board in round three of the Super Series III bracket with an 83.5 ride on Rock Star, owned by Cervi Championship Rodeo. He snuck into the final round of the rodeo by earning a “wild card” birth, then narrowly missed the $50,000 “Shoot Out” round – by finishing sixth in a round where only the top four advanced.
After Houston, Royce won the bareback riding at the Arcadia All-Fla Championship Rodeo in Florida, then picked up a fifth-place finish in the final round, as well as the average, at Rodeo Austin.
Following Austin, it was time for him to head home and catch up on some chores. At the house, he tended to the bucking horses he and wife Katie raise southwest of Briggsdale, Colo., and worked on another common ranch project – building fence. “I had to come home and put a fence up around the yard to keep my daughter in,” admitted Ford. “She’s starting to get around pretty good now, and we had to find a way to keep her close to the house.”
After spending some time at home with his wife and fencing in 11-month-old Bailey, Royce was ready to hit the road again. This time, he was headed to his second job as a rodeo stock contractor. As he explains, “About three years ago, Brent Williams and I got into the stock contracting business and it’s gone on from there. We put on some high school and amateur rodeos up in Idaho and I also put on a series in Kimball, Neb., too.”
In addition to riding and raising bucking horses, Royce will be involved with a couple rodeo schools this year. The first will be May 1-2 alongside his dad, Bruce Ford, in Kimball, Neb., and the second is an annual Thanksgiving rodeo school he volunteers for with his dad and traveling partners Wes Stevenson, Will Lowe and Tom McFarland – a group known as the “Wolf Pack.”
With a schedule like this, it’s good to be doing something you love.