OKLAHOMA CITY – The last time Steven Peebles rode a bucking horse, it was Dec. 15 during the 10th go-round of the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
He scored 85.5 points on the PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year, Carr Pro Rodeo’s MGM Deuces Night, and finished in a tie for third in the round. He won more than $7,700 that night and finished the NFR with nearly $40,000 in earnings.
The next time he locks himself to a bucking horse will be during the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for April 4-6 at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City, with performances planned for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 5; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6. He’ll battle 23 other top bareback riders all fighting for to be crowned this year’s national champion.
“I’m pretty excited that my first one back will be in Oklahoma City,” said Peebles, a four-time NFR qualifier from Redmond, Ore.
Pebbles had an injured hip repaired shortly after the NFR concluded, and his body needed months away from the rugged competition to mend. He’s gone through the rigors of rehabilitation, and he’s hoping it pays off handsomely. In addition to winning the prestigious national title, winners in each event earn a $20,000 voucher toward the purchase of a Ram truck.
“It’s awesome, and I’m pretty dang excited about it,” said Peebles, who qualified for the championship by winning the average title at the Columbia River Circuit Finals Rodeo last fall. “You have a chance to win a voucher for a new truck and a ton of money. It’s a title I always wanted to put my belt on.
“It’s a huge rodeo for us, and it would be awesome to win.”
He’ll have his hands full. In addition to getting on the toughest bareback horses in the game, Peebles will test his talent against many of ProRodeo’s elite, from world champions like Kaycee Feild and Bobby Mote to other NFR qualifiers like Joe Gunderson, Jessy Davis, Casey Colletti, Jared Keylon, Wes Stevenson, Clint Cannon and Caleb Bennett.
“There are a lot of good guys right in there, so it’s not going to be an easy title to win,” said Peebles, who last qualified for the RNCFR in 2009, prior to its move to Oklahoma City. “It’s going to be pretty awesome to compete there, to get to ride out of the same chutes as the guys that rode at the NFR back when it was in that coliseum. That’s just an awesome feeling.
“I’m excited to get back to riding again, and I’m really glad I get to do it there.”