|Real Western > Rodeo > Interviews > Will Lowe|
|World Bareback Riding Champion 2005|
|Name: Will Lowe
Nation: Texas, USA
Events: Bareback Riding
- How did you get started in rodeo?
There is this big rodeo there in Kansas City called the American Royal, and my family has had season tickets to that since before I was born. So, I've been going to that rodeo since I was a year old, grew up watching rodeo, and my family was into the agriculture side of life, not really rodeo but had cattle and horses and stuff, and I just always wanted to rodeo; wanted to be a cowboy.
- What made you decide on BB? Did you try other events?
Yeah, I've tried several events. When I started I was seven, and my parents didn't want me to ride bulls, which, at that time would have been steers, and they don't make bronc saddles for seven year olds, so I had to bareback horses.
- At about what age does Saddle Bronc come into play for youngsters?
Probably high school. To get a saddle made for me would've been pretty expensive, but a rigging, that just has to fit your hand, where as a saddle has to fit your entire body. So, probably 14, about high school age.
- When and where was your first rodeo?
My first rodeo was in Olden, Missouri.
- What has been your most memorable rodeo?
Probably my first NFR. 2002.
- Other than the World Championship and the NFR, what is your most memorable win?
I'd have to say my win there in Omaha in '03, I was 94 points on a horse called Sky Reach of Kessler's; they're from Canada. I tied the world record, and Dave (Shields) ended-up breaking it a couple years later, but besides the NFR, that would have to be my most memorable rodeo.
- You mentioned Davey broke the record, he did tell me about that, he posted 95 on Grated Coconut at the Calgary bonus round; do you think the PRCA is going to admit that into the records? After all, it is a bonus roundc
You know, I don't have any idea; I don't know what their stipulations are and stuff. I did see the ride, and it was a phenomenal ride!
- You don't have to give us the name if you don't want to, but, tell us about the worst rodeo, or worst conditions you've ever had to rodeo in?
I really don't know. The worst for me though is whenever it's really cold. It doesn't matter what rodeo it is, if it's really cold, it makes your hand hurt when you put it in your rigging, I mean it really hurts just because that leather is so cold and it's not soft anymore; so any rodeo where it's cold is the worst place. (laugh) I can deal with the rain and stuff like that, but when it's cold, that just kills everything.
- Most of us are never going to have the chance to win a World Championship. In order for us to get a general idea of what it might feel like though, tell us what it felt like to win the world.
I've been asked this a bunch (of times), and you really can't put it in to words. It's like asking a guy what it's like to win the Super Bowl. You kind of, more along the lines think of it as a long term goal; I won it when I was young; it's something I didn't think I was going to win that early. Just a great sense of achievement.
- Did the second time feel any different than the first? If so, how?
No, it felt the same. Just like it was the first time.
- What do you feel was the greatest thing that helped you win?
For me, consistency. I feel like I rode pretty consistent all year, and, going into the finals I felt like I was really on a roll and I went out there; I wasn't 94 or 90 or anything but I rode pretty consistent all week and I think that helps a lot.
- You're still young and yet you've already won the world twice. Do you envision your self breaking the record for most bareback world championships held by Joe Alexander and Bruce Ford?
Well, I can tell you I'm gonna' try (laugh) That's all I can say; I'm gonna' try. That's the goal but, you never know.
- So, which do you think you will wear more; you're 2003 buckle or 2005 buckle?
Ever since I won it I've had my 2003 buckle on and I've hardly taken it off, so, I'll probably keep wearing it. It was pretty special for me, being my first one. I don't know what I'll do with the second one; I guess I'll let my wife wear it a little bit.
- Just a little bit, right?
Yeah, just a little bit (laugh)
- Has your life changed at all since winning the world?
No, not really. People know who I am now; people recognize me, but, for me, not really. Still the same person I think; or at least I try to be. I just have a couple buckles.
- You won the fan favorite award, correct?
Yeah, that was very special for me. I was included in the ranks of Billy Etbauer and Charemane James; that was pretty cool. The fans have always treated me great in Vegas; Vegas has always been good to me. That was a pretty big highlight.
- As a professional [rodeo] cowboy, how do you choose your rodeos?
Really we look at who is bringing the stock, what's close to each other, and what adds the most money.
Let's say there's seven rodeos going on; there's one big one, so we'll go to the big one, and then three of those are within 500 miles, so we'll probably go to those within 500 miles of each other, sort of in the same area. Then there might be one down in Florida and one in New York or something; we're gonna' skip on those because they're so far away.
- What's the average mileage you think you could travel within a weekend to make a rodeo?
Within a weekend? Heck, last year we drove from Garden City, Kansas, we left there right after the bareback riding which was about 8 (o'clock), and we rode the next evening in Sisters, Oregon. So, that was like a 24 hour
drive. We made Salt Lake (City) in record time I think. There's four of us who usually drive together, and if there's all of us, or even 2 or 3 of us, if we can make it within time, we'll do it if it's worth it.
- Who are the four (people) you typically travel with?
I travel with Tom McFarland, Wes Stevenson and Royce Ford.
- Not a short hand of experience there.
No, it's a great traveling group. Everyone always stays positive and that's one of the reasons I really like to travel with them because, things don't always go good, but, everyone usually stays positive and we have a lot of fun.
- How did you hook-up with the group?
Well, Royce and I traveled together my rookie year in 2002 and we got along really, really good. And, Wes lives just about a 100 miles south of me, and he didn't have anyone to go with; he was traveling with Forrest Bramwell at the time, and Wes was traveling with Tom (McFarland) for a long time; used to be Forrest, Wes, Tom and Tyson Thomson. Tyson had gotten hurt, and Forrest ended up getting hurt; when Tyson got hurt, that opened up a spot for me, and so I jumped in with them, then Forrest got hurt and Royce started traveling with us.
- If someone reading this wanted to see you in action, is there any rodeo in particular they could go to where you are sure to be riding?
The tough thing about that is there's so many different dates to a rodeo, let's say Houston; I'm defiantly going to be at Houston, but there's twenty something performances. But, any of the big ones, I'll be there sometime. San Antonio, Houston, Denver, Redbluff Californiac All of the Tour rodeos we'll be at, except for maybecno, I think we'll be at all of them actually I guess (laugh). Just, any of the big ones, we'll defiantly be at.
- How do you prepare for a ride? What's your prep routine?
I'm a little bit different then some of the guys; I don't start getting ready until right before it's time to ride, and I try not to think about it really, 'cause for me, if I think about it too much I mess it up (laugh). So, I try not to think about it a whole lot, and just keep it off my mind. I always put all my stuff on in the same order; spurs and boots, my neck roll, my chaps, I always do that in the same order. I also do some stretching but other than that there's really not much of a prep routine.
- What are some things you're picky about in preparing to ride? (i.e. Handle must be here on horses back, etcc)
Your rigging sets in a different spot actually, 'cause each horse is built a little different, but I always want it right in the middle of the horse, I don't want my rigging cocked-off to one side, and I always want to make sure the horse is standing good; standing on all four feet and not leaning against one of the gates, he doesn't have his head down or something like that.
- What sort of effect would that have if he had his head down or was leaning on the gate or something like that?
Let's say he's leaning on the outside gate; when they open that gate, he has all that weight against it, like leaning on a door and someone opening the door out from underneath you, they kind of have a chance of falling. Where, if they have their head down they tend to scoot out of there real low and it's tough to mark them out, and, if they're squatting back against the slide gate, like almost sitting on their butt, they can kind of lunge off of it, using it sort of like a starting block; kind of tweaks you a little bit.
- You mentioned "marking them out" and, the rules stipulate your feet have to be "above the break of the shoulder"; where exactly is the "break of the shoulder"?
On a horse, where his neck attaches to his body, there's a line where his legs come up in to the body also, it's actually the shoulder bone, then it breaks down into the neck and there's a definite crease across there that you can see, and it just has to be above that crease. It's actually where their neck starts.
- You feet, or the spurs anyway, have to be in contact with the horse's body, correct?
- His neck, right. They can't be off of him, they actually have to be in contact when you come out, correct?
Right, they have to be in contact. And, like if they rear out, a lot of times when their feet hit the ground the first time, sometimes your feet will bounce if your not expecting them to rear out. So, that's why you don't want them to squat; some horses will rear out anyway, but, most of the time you know about it before hand.
- Now, if the horse were to rear out and "bounce your feet" as you say, would that be considered a foul, or is that acceptable?
Yup, they'd throw the flag on you because your feet weren't in contact when his front feet were hitting the ground.
- Is there anything you do different than other riders? (Use different kind of equipment, different prep routine, etcc)
No, no. I use the same stuff that anybody else uses. I use a different brand of rigging than what like Wes uses. There's really two major rigging makers and then there's a third that has a few guys that ride with his rigging. The two major ones are: Neal Barstow and Beastmaster Pro Rodeo Equipment. I ride a Barstow rigging; I've always rode one and I really, really like it but, you know, I've used other people's riggings; I've had a horse flip on my rigging and brake it, so I've used other riggings and, they don't use anything special.
- Now, the third guy you said some guys ride on, who is that?
Pete Hennessy; Hennessy Pro Rodeo Equipment.
- What were some things you're picky about concerning your equipment? What do you look for in a rigging?
You know, everyone rides their riggings a little different. Neil (Barstow), in my opinion, makes the best rigging; he's made them for a real long time. Some guys like their handle to be cocked on the body a little bit one way or the other, or the handle to actually be twisted. If the handle is cocked on the body, they're just lifting from a different point on their own body, and, I like mine to be just straight down the middle and I like my handle to just be straight. I think it's more how your body's built and how you have the most strength for lifting on your rigging handle 'cause you have to lift towards your nose, so, whichever makes it easiest for you to lift.
- While preparing for a ride, what should a rider keep in mind and look out for, and is there anything a rider should never do?
Sometimes you have to do it, but, in my opinion you should never stand over top of a horse, you should always sit down on him unless you just absolutely have to stand over him. Never spur one while he's in the chute (laugh).
- What's the reason for sitting on him versus standing over him?
Well, if you're standing over one and he decides to flip over, you kind of in a sensitive area and your body's going to get hit first. If you're sitting on them, you can kind of feel if they're going to start to come over and flip, and you can just slide off to the side, but if you're standing over them you can't really move your body, your entire body, enough to get out of the way.
- What should a rider keep in mind and look out for, and is there anything a rider should never do during a ride?
Yeah, there's a lot of things you have to watch out for, but, that just comes with learning. You don't want to get bucked off away from your hand, and you want to sit in the middle and spurr'm, but that doesn't always happen for anybody (laugh). It's just getting on a bunch. When you're on'm, you gotta go 90 to nothing or you're going to get bucked off. It's just learning to stay on'm.
- To you, what makes a good bronc? What would be a bad bronc?
To me, a good bronc is a horse that's honest, pretty consistent in what he does, or maybe not even real consistent but something that's not real dirty. By dirty I mean a bad bronc would be something that just changes directions a lot without kicking through it. When they change directions and kick, then it's a little easier to stay in time with them, but when they lunge forward and move side to side, maybe change with their front foot, changing leads, they get pretty trashy and tough, you can't really make a good ride on'm. The best one's are the ones that just buck as hard as they can and are honest.
- What things should the average spectator watch for to better appreciate or enjoy bareback riding?
Bareback riding is one of the tougher sports; you gotta watch a lot to know what's good and what's bad. Really they should watch the rider's upper body, if it stays in the middle, centered on the horse, and if his feet are in time with the horse; that doesn't mean he has to spur every step of the bronc, but, they come to the top of the rigging at the same time.
And then, maybe more enjoyable to watch, they should watch the horse, 'cause when they're changing directions, that's pretty good to watch on the whole if you ask me. They may not look as good as one that bounds and kicks in the air, but they dang sure gotta bare down to make the ride.
- Is there anything about bareback riding that you think is commonly misunderstood you would like to clarify here?
Maybe why we ride bareback horses. When you're breaking a horse, you don't go straight and put a saddle on'm 'cause that saddle might scare him. There really is a purpose to riding bareback horses; a lot's for show, but in the old days, you didn't always have a saddle right there to ride with (laugh)
- Tell me about the ride you are most proud of
That 94; I'm pretty proud of that one. There's quite a few that I'm pretty happy about; it wasn't always a high score, the horse maybe didn't kick as good as he should have, and didn't buck extremely hard but he was really, really hard to ride, and the ones where I ride good on something that usually doesn't get rode very good, those are the ones I'm happiest about.
- Who do you aspire to be like?
There's a bunch of guys I really look up to; Clint Corey for one; he rode really, really good for a long time. Bruce Ford for sure; I know Bruce pretty well and he's a great guy, and he's always been extremely great to me. The Garrets, Mark and Marvin; I really like the way they ride. Those are a bunch of guys I look up to. I'm lucky 'cause I get to call a lot of them my friends. Clint's a really great friend of mine I think. But really Clint, Bruce and the Garrets, I look up to them a lot.
- What made you think you could make it in the pros?
Don't know; I just wanted to. I didn't know if it was going to work out, but, I dang sure knew I wanted to give it a try. I figured if I didn't at least try, then I didn't have a chance. The armature rodeos worked good for me. I rode against a lot of tough guys in the armature circuit, and I want to say that there were a lot of good guys who rode really well. So, when I got to be at their level, I figured that with a little bit more time, I might get to the next level.
- What sort of things did you do in order to secure sponsors?
My brother did a lot of work for me for that. But, I just try to conduct my life properly and leave the rest to the Lord. You know, I've lucky with the sponsors; they've been real kind to me. I just try to ride good too, that helps (laugh)
- Who was your first sponsor?
My first sponsor was Neal Barstow. I wasn't even sponsored my rookie year. I went to the finals and Neal was kind enough to sponsor me. Then that next year, I was sponsored by somebody but can't remember who (laugh) I think I was sponsored by ExtraShots at the end of the year. My vet clinic has sponsored me for quite a few years; we have horses here and my wife has barrels, and Timber Creek Vet Clinic, they've done a lot for me, they're great.
- Who are your current sponsors?
Right now I'm sponsored by Wrangler, Timber Creek Vet Clinic, and I'm looking at being sponsored by a couple other people, but I haven't had any deals go through yet, so just Wrangler and my vet clinic.
- What goals did or do you have? Have you achieved them?
One of my goals was to win a world title, and God blessed me enough to let me win two of them. My goal each year is to make it to the NFR, and a career goal is to just last long and I want to go to the Finals a bunch (laugh) As many years as I can make it.
- Have you ever doubt your ability to go on? When & why? How did you overcome it?
No, not really. There've been times where I hadn't been drawing good or riding good and I'd think "Heck, I could be home right now working and I wouldn't have to worry about money" but, it's a fun lifestyle; it's pretty stressful, but you have a lot of fun doing it and I don't know anything else (laugh)
- Was this your worst injury so far?
Knock on wood, I broke my arm when I was in High School, and I tore some ligaments in my neck in High School, but nothing other than that.
- With all the injuries they endure, what do you think makes cowboys go on?
The thrill, kind of, but also the lifestyle. We get to see our good buddies all the time, we get to travel all over the United States, we see so many different beautiful places that it's just something that a lot of people don't get a chance to do. It doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun driving across the United States all the time but, we have a lot of fun doing it, and we get to see a lot of interesting places.
- What do you think of rodeo today?
I think rodeo is really growing and it's on a good path. I think every sport has its fallbacks and obstacles but, I think rodeo is overcoming a lot of those obstacles and improving. Hopefully people get to see us a lot more.
- What hopes do you have for rodeo in the future?
Just more exposure, really. We're getting more TV time this next year, and obviously on my part, more money (laugh) Hopefully more people can enjoy the sport.
- Where do you see bareback riding going in the future?
I see it going up. There's a lot of really good young guys that are coming up that are riding extraordinarily, and I think it's going to get better and better.
- In your view, what impacts has the PBR and other bull riding production companies had on rodeo or bareback riding?
I think it's been good. Things are good for bull riders, but it's also getting rodeo out there; maybe more bull riding, but rodeo is also kind of riding on the tails of bull riding a little bit; people think "Oh, bull riding" and they get to watch bull riding, then they realize there's this whole other part of the Western lifestyle and they get into that and they really like it.
- There are rumors circulating about the PBR purchasing the IPRA and running rodeos very similar to the way they run their bull riding events. If they did focus more on roughstock events, run these events more like they do their PBR events and more money was available, do you think you would be competing in that arena as well?
That's kind of how pro-rodeo is headed. It's a longer process than what a lot of people think. Rodeo's been around for so long, there's a lot of old traditions that we have to keep. We have to make sure that we maintain the traditions, but incorporate new events. That's really where our Tour Rodeos are headed; bigger venues and Tour Finales are getting into the bigger events and adding more money. So, really, that's where I see the PRCA is headed.
- What sort of traditions do you mean when you say "we need to keep traditions"?
Like the little rodeos. Going to those little rodeos help us pay our bills each month. There might not be a whole lot of people at them or top names but, the little county fares that the local guy got to enter back in the 50s, 60s and 70s is now the county fare pro-rodeo and you can't just kick them to the side and say "you're no longer a pro-rodeo" 'cause they've done so much for this sport. So, you've got to keep trying to keep them incorporated but also move to a bigger level.
- Tell us a little about your family.
I grew up just south of Kansas City, Kansas, and I have an older brother and an older sister. My sister goes to school at Sam Houston, she's on the rodeo team there, and my brother's a developer there in Kansas City and works for a brokerage.
- You mentioned you had a wife. Her name and background? Any kids?
No, no kids. Tiffini Lowe. We've been married three years; we got married there is Vegas in '02, my first year to the Finals. She runs barrels professionally, and she's a great, great woman.
Birth: 24th Dec 1982, Garden in Cansas
Address: Canyon, TX
Professional since 2001(PRCA)
NFR: 4 times
2002: Registol and Bareback Award
2002: 3rd grade
2003: World Champion
- Most earned money $188,247 by bareback
- 94 points (Dallas) world recored
- Champion at 5 rodeos (Rodeo Houston, Calgary Stampede Rodeo etc)
- 2004: 2nd in the world
- Champion at 6 rodeos (La Fiesta Los Vaqueros(Touson AZ)
- 4th Go Round Champion
- 2005: World Champion
- Champion at 12 rodeos.
- NFR 4th
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