LOVINGTON, N.M. – As he rolls toward the final two months of his rookie season in ProRodeo, Clayton Biglow is making quite a name for himself.
A month and a half ago, he finished the College National Finals Rodeo as the reserve bareback riding champion, falling just three points shy of the national titlist, Feather River (Calif.) College teammate Wyatt Denny. As of mid-July, Biglow was 11th in the world standings and, maybe more importantly, he is the No. 1 bareback rider in the race for the rookie title.
A year ago, though, he was just a young cowboy learning the ropes that as a ProRodeo permit-holder. By the time he arrived in Lovington last August, he was virtually a seasoned veteran, and he showed it; Biglow matched moves with Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Scarlet’s Web for 87 points to share the title at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
“It was a little intimidating, especially for a guy like me,” Biglow said of the horse, a powerful and electric bay mare that has bucked at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 10 times. “When you see your name next to one of those really good horses, it gets your motor running. She felt amazing, exactly how I was hoping she’d feel.
“Pete Carr’s got a hell of a string of horses.”
He shared the title with three-time NFR qualifier Winn Ratliff, and they were just two of the 2015 titlists that are expected to return to the nationally recognized rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13, with the Lea County Xtreme Bulls set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9.
The cowboys have come to expect good things out of Lovington’s rodeo, which has been a regular nominee for Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“I like this rodeo, because Pete has a bunch of good horses,” said Cody Wright, a two-time world champion who shared the saddle bronc riding title in Lea County with Cort Scheer. “That’s where you like to come. It looked like there were a lot of chances to win tonight; apparently there was a lot of chances every night.
“That’s good, especially when I’ve got four people enter that I want to see win. I want to go where we all have a chance to win, and Pete’s rodeos are usually them. It seems to me the horses want to buck here in Lovington. It’s a good rodeo.”
The Lea County Fair and Rodeo features a large purse, which is attractive to the contestants that make their livings on the rodeo trail. Of course, having success in a particular arena can go a long ways. That’s the case for the steer wrestling Shofner brothers, who all have fared well inside Jake McClure Arena.
“This has been one of those rodeos we have a lot of confidence in,” said Cooper Shofner, who earned the title a year ago. “Jacob (Shofner) has placed here every year he’s been here, and I’ve placed most every year.”
Whatever it is, hundreds of the top contestants in the game make their way to southeastern New Mexico every August.
“It’s a combination of great stock, good money and great fans,” Wright said. “There are great people putting it on and making it good. Nobody wants to go to a sorry-run rodeo. You go to a few of them, so it’s nice to go to one that’s run well. It’s not boring. I’m sure it’s not sitting as a fan, because it’s not boring back here, and I’m just catching a glimpse of what’s going on in the arena.”
Rodeo fans know the Lea County Fairgrounds is the place to see rodeo’s greatest stars, and they pack the stands every night to see it happen.