Buddies are Hamel Rodeo champs

Winn Ratliff didn’t even think about the horse he had drawn at the Hamel Rodeo during the July 5 weekend.

Even though his ride was next, he was more interested in watching what he called the "match-up" of the weekend – his fellow bareback rider Kyle Brennecke’s ride.

And after Brennecke scored 85 points on his ride, Ratliff responded with an 86-point ride to win first place.

Ratliff rode the Mosbrucker Rodeo horse Moon Blast, and nearly didn’t compete in the Hamel Rodeo, held at Corcoran Lions Park. He had planned on going home to visit family, but fellow traveling partners Brennecke, Jared Keylon, and Heath Ford convinced him that this horse was worth getting on.

"Jared and Heath had been on him, and they knew more about him. They said I could be a lot of points, if I kept up with him. They said he’s electric and for a short guy like me, he’d fit my style."

The four cowboys who travel together did well in the bareback riding, with Brennecke and Ford in a tie for second place, and Keylon winning sixth place.

Being traveling buddies has been a blessing, Ratliff said. "I’ve got a good group of guys (to travel with.) We all push each other. We all feed off each other, and just try to do our best." Ratliff and Ford have traveled together for about a year; Keylon and Brennecke joined them this season.

Ratliff, who is currently ranked ninth in the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings, also won first place at the Springdale, Ark. rodeo the previous weekend.