Healthy Kyle Bowers champing at the bit

Kyle Bowers is feeling good — for the first time in about five years.

And, professional rodeo’s three-time Canadian bareback riding champion from Brooks, Alta., is so healthy, he didn’t deny he has an itch to try to conquer the world again.

A hint that he’s at least willing to expand his borders emerged on the weekend. Dispatches from Colorado Springs, rodeo’s U.S. headquarters, revealed he’d entered and worked a couple of American rodeos.

One was at Coulee City, Wash., the other at Eagle Mountain, Utah, productions so small that they’d never been on his itinerary back in 2005 and 2006 when he entered everything in sight.

And, he had company — Saskatchewan-raised 22-year-old saddle bronc rider Rylan Geiger, who came up less than $5,000 shy of winning the 2011 Canadian championship last November.

They were travelling partners on the home front last year.

“I’m not really back on the trail again,” Bowers, now 35, said, somewhat suspiciously.

“We were just sitting around home about a month ago getting bored because there weren’t many rodeos going on in Alberta. He convinced me to buy my American card and pop across the line with him.”

They covered expenses.

Bowers earned $540 at Coulee City, Geiger $368; And Bowers picked up another $208 at Eagle Mountain, while Geiger collected $310.

Small numbers, but small rodeos.

“I’m going to another one on Thursday at Central Point (Oregon),” Bowers reported. “Rylan can’t go because he has commitments at home.”

It’s a more decent-sized rodeo that could pay up to $2,500 for first.

Bowers, who wound up second in the world standings at the end of the 2005 regular-season and put together a $124,000 year, has gone through numerous disabilities since the end of 2006.

Shoulder separations and dislocations, a mysterious pelvic injury that took months to diagnose, a broken foot, a torn ligament in his left (riding) hand and other ailments snuffed his ambitions to the point where he rodeoed only in B.C. and the Prairies.

He didn’t even buy his American card.

But, last month the boredom set in and over a six-week span Bowers crawled on more than 25 practice bucking horses.

“I finally was healthy again and feeling good about things,” he said. “I went to (stock contractor) Warren Weatherly’s roughstock event at Stettler just for practice as well and ended up winning $1,500.

“It’s so hard for me up here in the spring just getting on one horse every week or two. I don’t ride well when I do that. I have to get on four and five a week to stay fresh. That’s why I worked those two little rodeos.”

Following a couple of stops this coming weekend at Leduc and Hand Hills, the season up here gets busier, which fits Bowers program. And if there isn’t enough action, he’ll pop across the line again.

“If I was to win a $10,000 cheque somewhere, it would definitely be hard for me not to go to more rodeos,” he explained. “But, I’m not setting myself up for that right now. My priorities are to stay healthy for an entire year and possibly win another Canadian championship.

“Then, maybe next year, I’d put in a strong run down south starting with the winter rodeos. It’s kind of a goal that got me thinking about this whole process.”

Meanwhile, Geiger also won the opening Wrangler Tour rodeo at Grande Prairie on the weekend and the $3,598 payday ran his seasonal income to nearly $5,700 — enough to penetrate the top 50 in the world standings.

Practice pays off for old Bowers brother

Bower’s older brother Robert, a former Canadian and Calgary Stampede champion bull rider, never saw the inside of a practice pen in his 18 years of the trail.

But Kyle got him to change his ways this spring and it served him well.

Robert put together rides of 86 at Camrose and 84 at Coleman to win nearly $2,100 and be among the early Canadian standings leaders.

Unfortunately, the 37-year-old broke his left leg (tibia) while trying to bail off his bull at Coleman and is now on the disabled list.

Robert, who probably weighs less than all the metal in his body from years of surgeries, lists his other occupation as poker room manager.

He’s now in Las Vegas for this week’s opening event of the World Series of Poker, which was a featured story on the sports pages of Monday’s edition of USA Today.

Source: Calgary Hearld