Royce Ford's Bareback Riding Wins Gives Confidence Boost Times Three

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Three rodeos, three states and three wins. That was the ledger for bareback rider Royce Ford over the June 10-12 weekend -- just the sort of parlay calculated to make him feel confident about a return to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo after a 2010 season lost to injury. Ford's wins came at Garden City, Kan.; Cortez, Colo., and Delta, Utah.

Royce Ford doesn't recall the last time he had three bareback riding wins in a single weekend, and he's not too concerned about figuring it out. Ford just knows he hasn?t felt this good about his prospects in quite a while.

It's hard to beat a perfect weekend ? bareback riding wins at Delta, Utah; Cortez, Colo., and Garden City, Kan. ? especially when you are coming off an injury-shortened season in which you had three wins total and missed the Wrangler National Finals for the first time in eight years.

The combined money for the weekend came to $3,929 and only moved him up a few places from 22nd to 18th in the world standings (one spot ahead of his cousin, Heath Ford), but that's almost beside the point. Ford is healthy, he's making money, supporting his family in Briggsdale, Colo., and he's riding well.

Exhibit A would the 88-point ride he had on Korkow Rodeo?s Inky to win at the Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo in Garden City at the end of his 1,496-mile weekend road trip. That followed an arena-record 86-pointer on Bar T Rodeo?s Mikey in Cortez and an 83 on Honeycutt Rodeo?s Standing Tall in Delta.

That's three states, three wins and an average score of 85.67.

?I drew a good set of horses and I took advantage,? Ford said. ?It gives me a little bit of cushion ? some money in the bank and a lot of confidence heading toward Cowboy Christmas.?

Ford and traveling partner Micky Downare, of Hartsel, Colo., missed the deadline for entering the rodeos in Sisters, Ore., and Livermore, Calif., so this was their Plan B, and they made it work just fine.

While Ford was sweeping the titles, Downare finished third at the Ute Mountain Roundup in Cortez, and saddle bronc rider Cody Martin, who joined them in the car for the whole trip, won at Cortez with an arena-record 81-point ride on Honeycutt Rodeo?s Elvis.

?We had a pretty happy bunch of guys in the car,? Ford said.

A broken right leg suffered during the 2009 Wrangler NFR and a bout with torn tendons in his elbow wiped out nearly seven months of his season a year ago and limited him to just 25 rodeos.

So, Ford appreciates every moment that he gets to do the thing that he loves, chasing the family legacy to become a world champion; his father, Bruce, shares the record with five world championships in bareback riding.

?Everybody wants to be No. 1,? Ford said. ?From here on, I'm going to go to all the rodeos that I can. My goal is to be in the top five going into the Wrangler NFR, and then we'll see what happens.

?I honestly don't feel any extra pressure. I play for the love of the game. It's a great life. You are your own boss and, at times, you can be your own worst enemy. It's all up to you. You do the best you can and hope that it all works out.?

This week, it worked out three times.