Published on: July 17, 2016 | Last Updated: July 17, 2016 7:07 PM MDT
Steven Peebles sighed, thinking about the lost income, the bills, and the stress.
But, politely, the 27-year-old tried to put things in perspective what six months off bareback riding meant to the Redmond, Ore., cowboy.
“It was a lot,” Peebles said, shaking his head. “You have a lot of money and bills to pay every month. Lots of hospital bills coming from the past few months with all of my wrecks and stuff. Things kind of pile up on you over six months.”
A year ago, Peebles had to pull out of the Calgary Stampede after a wreck at a rodeo in Livingston, Mt., nearly killed him. His lungs and chest had filled with blood but, amazingly, doctors were able to save him.
Peebles battled back, qualifying for his seventh National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and captured the bareback world championship.
Truth be told, the thought of a world title kept him going when the hospital days seemed to drain the life out of him.
“I’ve been really close a few years past but I really wanted one,” Peebles explained. “That’s what really pushed me to get out of that bed and to train and get back. I pulled through and only had 30-some rodeos I went to but I pulled it off, went to the NFR and won a world championship.
“It’s changed my life.”
And it changed again on the Calgary Stampede’s championship Sunday.
But his path to the richest day in outdoor rodeo, of course, stalled. In February, Peebles was in a passenger vehicle that flipped and broke his back (for the second time in two years, if you can believe it).
Against all odds, he recovered.
Six months later, he was at the Stampede — his first rodeo since the injury.
“I wanted to get back on the road so bad,” Peebles said. “I haven’t gone six months without riding a bucking horse since I was probably 14 years old.
“It was the longest break I’ve ever had and I was going crazy at home.”
Qualifying for Sunday’s finals, Peebles gutted out a performance worthy of the top-four with an 89-point ride in the first round on a horse named Wild and Blue.
Then, in the final round, he celebrated in the mud after a 87.5 ride on Shadow Warrior.
The only problem?
Caleb Benett had posted an identical score aboard Virgil.
So, the two were forced to board their third horse of the day and compete in a ride-off. “I was really, really, really hoping that we wouldn’t do a third one,” Peebles said with a grin. “I was tired and soaking wet. Every inch of my body was covered in mud.”
The eight-second trip was well-worth it.
On a Vold horse called Wildwood Flower, he managed to best Bennett with an 83-point performance in the two-rider showdown. And talk about a much-needed payday.
Peebles added $100,000 to his earnings after winning $11,500 in the Pool B aggregate.
“I was fortunate to have a good NFR but between that and taxes and having to keep money aside … it was a relief to get $100,000 here,” Peebles said. “I wasn’t really counting my chickens before I won it. I haven’t had six months of income, so this cheque was very well needed.”
The title meant even more, given what he’s had to endure to get there.
“It’s so awesome,” Peebles said. “Sitting in a hospital bed watching this rodeo a year ago, it was very hard on me. I’ve always wanted to win this rodeo pretty bad and wanted to make sure I got back here this year. Then I sat out another six months with another injury. My first rodeo in 2016, to be standing here feels pretty awesome. “Calgary’s the last one on the bucket listthat I’ve wanted to win. And now I’m standing here … this is an honour. This is pretty dang cool.”
“Cool”? – that’s a hell of an understatement Steve. That’s Cowboy Cool.