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Ratliff captures glory at RAM Southeastern Circuit Finals Rodeo

by Tracy Renck | Nov 10, 2018

DAVIE, Fla. –  This was a blast from the not-so-distant past Saturday night.

Bareback rider Winn Ratliff, who had his last two seasons sabotaged by injuries, was back in top form, winning the average and year-end titles at the RAM Southeastern Circuit Finals Rodeo.

“This is great,” said Ratliff, 29. “The last two years I haven’t been healthy, and finally to be healthy and get a circuit championship and an average championship is awesome. This year turned out great for me. I got to spend more time with my family and just be home more, and then I finally got healthy. I’m tickled.”

Ratliff, and his wife, Brittany, have a daughter, MaryClaire, 3. According to Ratliff, his wife is expecting a baby boy Dec. 4. The family lives in Leesville, La.  

With the circuit rodeo and year-end titles, Ratliff qualified for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Fla., March 21-24.

“My daughter watches all the Disney movies, and we are going to have a blast,” Ratliff said about going to the RAM NCFR.

Ratliff won the average with a three-head score of 240 points and departed town after earning $9,481. He clinched the average crown with an 82-point ride on Hi Lo ProRodeo's Rosie in the third round.

“I had a good horse, and she was outstanding with me,” Ratliff said. “I made a good ride, and it felt like Winn Ratliff was back. I was very excited.”

Ratliff is no stranger to success as he qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2012 and 2014-16. He finished a career-best seventh in the world standings in 2014.

Since March 2017, Ratliff’s rodeo career took a downward spiral because of injuries. He shattered his pelvis in Bay City, Texas.

“That pretty much ended my season,” Ratliff said. “I made the Southeastern Circuit Finals at the end of the year, and I should have taken time off. This year in January, I ended up tearing my abdominal muscle around my pelvic area. I just started back too soon. I went to my surgeon and he told me I would not need surgery, but I would need 12 more weeks off. I was disheartened. The only way to get better was to take time off. So, I just took my equipment and put it in the attic, and I didn’t even think about rodeo.”

Ratliff found himself a job in the heating and air conditioning business.

“In July, I was talking to my traveling partner Jake Brown and we would talk about rodeo, and I started getting the itch,” Ratliff said. “I started getting back in the gym and getting in shape. I told my family I was going to get back on a bucking horse. They thought I was crazy. Then, in the end of July, I got on a couple of bucking horses, and the second one is when things clicked for me.”

Ratliff returned to action at the Deep South PRCA Rodeo in Winnsboro, La., Aug. 2-4. He placed second.

“My goal from that point was to try and make it to the Southeastern Circuit Finals Rodeo,” Ratliff said. “I feel blessed. In the back of my mind, I thought my career as far as riding bareback horses might be done. So, to win like this gives me confidence that I can still ride a bareback horse. I’m finally healthy, and I guess I just needed a break.”

As for his rodeo future, Ratliff is playing things by ear.

“My goal is to try and get into some big rodeos this winter and see what happens,” Ratliff said. “I don’t know if I’m going to rodeo full time. I’m not going to worry about it. With a family, my priorities have changed. Being home has been a blessing, and my little girl needs me to be a daddy. I’m just going to pray about it and see what door opens and what door shuts.”

Other winners at the $220,229 rodeo were all-around cowboy Bart Brunson ($10,705, tie-down roping and team roping), steer wrestler Gary Gilbert (13.3 seconds on three head), team ropers Bart Brunson/Wesley Brunson (19.0 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Bradley Harter (244 points on three head), tie-down roper Justin Thigpen (28.6 seconds on three head), barrel racer Sabra O’Quinn (44.42 seconds on three runs), and bull rider Dustin Boquet (247.5 points on three head).

For more coverage of the RAM Southeastern Circuit Finals Rodeo, check out the Nov. 16 digital edition of ProRodeo Sports News.

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