Bray Armes isn’t quite sure the first time he was atop a horse. He was pretty young, that he knows.
He’s gotten on a lot more recently. In fact, he’ll ride at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the first time in his life when ProRodeo’s grand finale begins in a little more than two weeks.
Armes grew up in the Texas Panhandle community of Gruver, about half an hour south of Guymon, Okla. As a youngster, he and his family showed livestock. That left little time for horses. But young Bray got back in the saddle when he received a horse as a present for his eighth grade graduation.
His father, David, was a bulldogger in his younger days, and Bray took a liking to it. Just before his senior year in high school, he took to steer wrestling, too, and even trained under Larry Dawson in Arnett, Okla.
He did pretty well his only season bulldogging in high school and earned a scholarship to Howard County Junior College in Big Spring, Texas, where he qualified three times for the College National Finals Rodeo. He finished as runner-up to the national champion his third year, then went on to Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and returned to the college finals his final season.
In 2004, he won the Texas Circuit’s steer wrestling title and also won the average championship at the circuit finals. That qualified him to compete at the then-Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Pocatello, Idaho. He rodeoed two more seasons before focusing on his family. In fact, he didn’t return to rodeo until 2012.
So Bray Armes is a proven winner. His traveling partner, two-time world champion Dean Gorsuch, predicts this is just the first of many NFR qualifications for the Texan.
It’ll be fun to see it in person.