LOVINGTON, N.M. – The last time Kelly Timberman and Riverboat Annie danced across a rodeo arena, it was a winning combination.
That was less than two weeks ago when the world champion bareback rider and the Carr Pro Rodeo reserve world champion bucking horse matched moves together for 88 points to win the Eagle County (Colo.) Fair and Rodeo.
They’ll have a chance to repeat this week during the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, with four performances scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13, at Jake McClure Arena in Lovington. The random draw conducted by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has matched Timberman, the 2004 world champ, and Riverboat Annie, the 2007 runner-up bareback horse of the year.
“This is one of those match-ups that people don’t want to miss,” said Pete Carr, owner of Dallas-based Carr Pro Rodeo, the primary livestock producer in Lovington. “It’s a tribute to the caliber of athletes that come to Lovington, because you know you have a chance to have those kinds of match-ups every performance.”
There will be plenty incredible combinations inside Jake McClure Arena over the four days of competition, but that’s part of the fascination of having a stock contractor like Carr bringing some of the greatest bucking horses in the business to southeastern New Mexico. Whether it’s bull riding with Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers Clayton Foltyn vs. Air Up There or Bobby Welsh teamed with Black Gold, fans will get to see the best cowboys on the best animal athletes each night.
Saddle bronc rider Alex Wright, coming off his first qualification to the NFR, will be teamed with Carr’s Miss Congeniality, a 9-year-old mare that also played in Vegas for the first time last December. Four-time bronc riding qualifier J.J. Elshere will test his mettle with Coffee Bean, also an NFR veteran.
But the biggest highlight real will come in bareback riding, where NFR-caliber athletes will be matched over and over again: Ryan Gray and Big Lights; reigning Lovington champion Caleb Bennett and Grass Dancer, who helped Gray tie a world record with a 94-point ride in Eagle, Colo., two seasons ago; Caine Riddle, a second-generation bareback rider who is in the top 20 in the world standings, and Riverboat Annie; and three-time world champion Will Lowe and Dirty Jacket, a horse that carried Lowe to the title in Guymon, Okla., and to a second-place finish in Silverton, Texas, in 2010.
“It’s going to be phenomenal,” Carr said. “I’m really excited about these match-ups.”