Robert Bowers reflects on storied rodeo career

Robert Bowers rides Candyman for 88 points in Round 10 of the 1999 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Everything Cowboy photo by Mike Copeman

It was the sixth go-round of the 1999 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and Robert Bowers had a choice to make.

A night prior, the Brooks, Alta bull rider had broken his riding arm for the sixth time in his career at the end of a round-winning 84-point ride.

While an injury like that would be the end of the line for most cowboys, Bowers wasn’t ready to hang it up just yet.

After all, this was where he had dreamed of riding ever since he was a little kid: centre stage at the Thomas & Mack Centre at the biggest rodeo of them all. He couldn’t just up and quit.

So instead, he decided to do something rarely seen in the bull riding world: he got back on the next night and rode with his other hand.

“I had done it a couple of times before that when I had broken my arm,” recalled Bowers, who has been away from the sport for about five years now.

“It was basically go home and heal up or figure out how to ride with the other hand and be able to go to some rodeos still.”

The first couple of times that he broke it, Bowers went home and took the time to heal up properly.

But after the fourth or fifth time breaking his arm, the dual-event bull rider and bareback rider decided he couldn’t stand to keep missing good rodeos, so he started trying his luck at riding with the other hand and, after a while, it started working.

“I started getting on a little bit with my other hand. I did okay with it – obviously I couldn’t ride as good as I did with my left hand – but I rode alright with it and I could get by some at the right places with it,” he said.

Luckily, one of those places turned out to be the NFR, where Bowers rode two of the remaining five rounds with his off hand, and picked up a second-place cheque with his right hand in the 10th round.

It wasn’t a bad way to end the veteran cowboy’s third and final time at the WNFR.

The broken arms weren’t Bowers’ only time dealing with injuries, though.

Over the course of his rodeo career, the 2004 Calgary Stampede bull riding champion broke his right ankle, his collar bone (three times), his thumb twice, his jaw and his elbow.

And unlike his arm troubles, Bowers couldn’t solve those problems just by switching his riding hand.

That’s where having insurance was a huge benefit to the cowboy, who has been away from the sport for five years now.

“It’s something that I got in fairly early. It wasn’t right when I started or anything but it was fairly early in my career when I got insurance,” said Bowers, who has spent the past five years as a poker dealer and now as a long-haul trucker.

While Bowers hasn’t officially retired from rodeo and still feels he could come back if he wants to, the veteran cowboy noted

“I can’t say I had a bunch more injuries than a lot of people but I had my share of injuries and it paid off for me. It was something that I didn’t always have to try to decide whether to get back on and get back to the rodeos. It gave me the opportunity to actually heal up properly and take the proper time to get through some of the injuries.”

Bowers noted that there has always been a pressure for cowboys to continue to ride through injuries.

“I know there was definitely times where I was getting on when I probably shouldn’t have been and if I had some proper insurance coverage earlier I probably wouldn’t have had to put myself through some of those extra risks at those times when I was injured.”

That’s where Supplemental Insurance comes in.

The personal insurance products that Supplemental has access to cover anything that would result in the inability of a client to perform their usual business or occupation. Thus, giving them the time and financial flexibility they need to allow the injury to fully heal before going back to work.

“That is the biggest reason why I picked it up years and years ago and I kept it through most of my career. Because having that opportunity to take the proper time and heal up properly is so key to doing the best that you can do and not wasting opportunities,” Bowers said.

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