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Ride ‘Um Cowboy

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 1:36 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Ronald Howard is an auto mechanic by trade, but on weekends he’s more focused on a different kind of horsepower. Not only does he breed and train horses, he’s often on the road with his grandson Rodney, who has inherited his family’s love for horses.

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

But Rodney has taken it to a different level, and last year he became a World Champion Bareback Rider, as his grandfather explains, “My background came from me riding with my grandfather. We were from Bullock County, Alabama. And every time he rode, I rode. And I’m proud to be able to do it with my grandsons. And I still ride with them. They’re 13, 14, and 15 years old.”

And his grandson has followed the same trail. “He was on a horse soon as he could sit one, probably about one-year-old riding in front of me. We were riding around one afternoon I saw a sign. It said Cowboy Christmas in July. It was at Tannehill State Park not far from here, so we went to see what a Cowboy Christmas was in July, and they had these kids riding these little bucking horses. He said, ‘Granddaddy, I want to do that.’ He rode all three horses that they put him on.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

From a 7-year-old on his first bucking horses to an experienced rider, at last year’s finals 13-year-old Rodney won his biggest championship so far, the International Miniature Rodeo World Finals. “I won the first round with a buckle. I won the second. Then I went to the short go Saturday. I won it. Then Sunday to the finals and I won it.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

Every rodeo cowboy knows there’s a ton of travel between eight second rides, but Rodney always has company. “My traveling partner is my mom and my granddad mostly, and every rodeo I’ve been to they’ve never missed one.”

In Rodney’s event, bareback riding, there’s not much between the cowboy and the horse or the ground. “With a rigging, you don’t have anything, but, it’s like a suitcase handle. You shove your glove into it and get a bind. It just sits down on the horse with no saddle and no blanket on it.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

And some day, Rodney hopes to make it to The National Finals Rodeo. “I got my goals set to go all the way to The NFR, and when I’m at the NFR, I want my mom and my granddad to still be there with me because they’ve never missed one, and I don’t want them to miss that one.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

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