2006 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Bareback Riding Winner

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In bareback riding, one of the most closely competitive events in ProRodeo, Will Lowe is always in the mix. From the very beginning of the season, he led the standings. He didn't necessarily dominate the field, but he was in the thick of the world title race the entire year.

As August rolled around, the race narrowed itself to two competitors, Lowe and Andy Martinez. After winning the Caldwell (Idaho) Stampede, in true cowboy fashion, Lowe told Spin to Win Rodeo that there was no way the bareback riding was a two-man race, there were too many good bareback riders who could get on a roll and make a run at the world title.

As it turns out, Lowe was correct in assessing that the bareback riding wouldn't be a two-man race. Instead, it was all Lowe. Once the Canyon, Texas, cowboy got to the bright lights of Las Vegas for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, he took a stranglehold of the race and never let go. He placed in nine of 10 rounds, won three and after eight rounds he won his third world title in four years.

"I had a lot of fun I took it one horse at a time," he said. "That's what I've tried to do every year. Not worry about the average and not worry about the standing and not worry about any of it. One bucking horse a night. If didn't go good the night before, maybe it will go better the next night."

That simple philosophy led Lowe to three new earnings records. Back in the regular season, he broke his own 2004 record for earnings by about $8,000. Then, by virtue of winning the Wrangler NFR average title with 821.5 points on 10 head and placing in 9 of ten rounds, he shattered Lan LaJeunesse's 1999 record for Wrangler NFR earnings by $30,000 with $128,302. Finally, he broke Kelly Timberman's two-year-old record for total earnings by $55,000 with $280,227.

"It's always a competitive season in the bareback riding," he said. "The first time I won it I had a pretty good lead, but if you look back over history, you'll see that the bareback riding is one of the toughest sports in the history and it's because the other guys ride so great."

A closer historical examination might actually demonstrate Lowe's dominance rather than the event's parity. The record for the most bareback riding world titles is five, held by Joe Alexander and Bruce Ford. Will Lowe, only two behind that record, joined the PRCA in 2001 and is only 24 years old.

One caveat to his run is his health. While he's never had any significant health issues in his young career, that might only mean he's due. In fact, after his round-10 fourth-place ride he held his riding arm. Clear through the world champion ceremonies he never took the tape off of his arm and by the end of the night appeared pale and uncomfortable, as opposed to last year when he cut loose following his world title.

When asked about his health, he gave a stoic reply.

"We'll be alright," and declined to comment further.

2007 will reveal his status if he won't on his own, but if he can fully recover, his in-control, upright style will carry him to even more broken records.