Despite the pain, love of rodeo keeps Kyle Bowers coming back

Bareback rider Kyle Bowers will be competing in the 2015 Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, Nov. 11-15. RYAN JACKSON / EDMONTON JOURNAL

CURTIS STOCK, EDMONTON JOURNAL
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Published on: October 27, 2015 | Last Updated: October 27, 2015 7:17 PM MDT

Bareback rider Kyle Bowers will be competing in the 2015 Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, Nov. 11-15. RYAN JACKSON / EDMONTON JOURNAL

Just what is it that would possess a man like Kyle Bowers so completely that he would go through so much pain and incur so many injuries just to keep riding wild, high-stepping and bucking bareback horses?

“It’s got to be love,” said Bowers at Tuesday’s Canadian Finals Rodeo news conference.

“I don’t know of any other reason why somebody would be so stupid to do this for so long. It’s a passion. It’s in my blood.”

Bowers, a five-time Canadian bareback champion — three times in the Open division — will compete at the Nov. 11-15 Canadian Finals at Rexall Place for the 16th time.

To say the least, it’s been a rocky road.

“There were times when I didn’t know if I would be able to get on another horse again.”

That’s little wonder, given that along the way Bowers has broken ribs, bruised his lung, dislocated his shoulder, torn knee ligaments, broken his foot, tore his hamstring, damaged his groin muscles and his pelvis and twice broken his arm.

While the pelvis injury lingered the longest — more than a year and a half — the worst wreck Bowers had came a dozen years ago at a rodeo in Livingston, Mont.

“I was on Kesler’s Cheap Seats,” said Bowers, 38, the oldest contestant in the bareback event, one of the CFR’s seven featured main events.

“At 8.01 seconds I went out the back door and she kicked me right in the chest. I tore the muscles off my sternum, cracked a rib and bruised a lung. I was spitting up blood.”

The only good news was that Bowers marked 89 points that day and won the rodeo.

But quit? Not likely. At least not when he keeps showing that he can more than just compete with the best the world can offer; he can win and win often.

Bowers won a handful of rodeos this year at places like Rocky Mountain House, Canmore, his hometown of Brooks and at a round at the Calgary Stampede.

When he wasn’t winning he was usually right there, picking up a mitt full of seconds and thirds.

“Sure, I think about retirement. Bareback is one of the hardest sports, period, on your body,” he said of the event where contestants have nothing more than a leather hand-hold — no reins, no stirrups; not even a real saddle — to grasp onto.

“I don’t want to stay too long where it gets to the point where I’m not competitive. But at the same time I don’t want to quit too early either.

“I finished in the top four in Canada,” Bowers said of winning $23,277 from 40 rodeos this year.

“Any time you can do that it’s not a bad thing. It wasn’t my best year but it certainly wasn’t too bad either.”

Money won during the regular season is added to the money won at the Canadian Finals to determine the champions of Canada.

With Airdrie’s Jake Vold winning $48,994 one the season, Bowers knows he has only a longshot chance of overtaking Vold and making up the $25,717 deficit.

“Catching Jake is probably an unrealistic goal; he’s just riding too good not to win any money. He just has to win some money and make it next to impossible to catch him.”

But in the next breath, Bowers said with all the money that is available at the CFR it’s not impossible either.

“This is the first year that prize money is over $12,000 for winning first in a round. If I jump out the first night and win $12,000 and Jake wins zero, then it’s a race. And if I do it again on the second night then we’re basically tied.”

In total almost $1.6 million will be handed out at the five-day, six-performance CFR.

“Rodeo is an actual profession now,” said Bowers. “You can make money at it now. “

STOCK REPORT — For the first time, there will be a concert series after each of the evening performances featuring Chad Brownlee, Terri Clark, The Road Hammers and Dallas Smith. Admission is $25 per show or $80 for all four.

Tickets for the CFR and the concerts are available at all participating Ticketmaster locations, online at ticketmaster.ca or by phoning 1-855-780-3000.

Performances are at 7:30 Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There is also a Saturday afternoon matinee which starts at 1 p.m., which is also the starting time for Sunday’s Finals.

cstock@edmontonjournal.com

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