But 2015 bareback riding world champ, dogged by injuries, not ready to retire
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KTVZ) -- In 2015, Steven Peebles claimed the PRCA bareback riding world title.
Unfortunately, since 2016, the Redmond cowboy’s career has been sabotaged by injuries.
Peebles' latest setback came Jan. 6 when he had surgery in Bend to repair a bulging disc in his neck.
“Throughout last year I was having some neck issues a little bit, and they were off and on,” said Peebles, 30. “After the rodeo season was done in the fall and I was doing some work, my neck was just killing me all the time.
:I rode (at an unsanctioned PRCA rodeo Dec. 21 in Billings, Mont.), and I don’t know if it was whiplash during the ride or what. When I got off, everything was normal, and then as soon as I was walking out of the arena, I felt nerve spasms all through my neck.
"By the time I left the rodeo, it was bad. I could hardly hold my head up. I got home and had an MRI and found out that I had an almost entire disc shoot out the back of my neck into my spinal cord. It was intolerable pain.”
Peebles said the surgery has alleviated the pain, and he’s expected to be out of action for at least two months.
“They removed (the damaged) disc and put like a spacer deal in there to make up where the disc was, and in front of that they put in a plate and four screws to fuse the joint,” Peebles said. “I have never had neck issues in my career before. I was sore after the surgery, but I’m feeling a lot better. I have to wear a neck brace for a month. Then, I will be doing therapy to get my neck strong and should be ready to rodeo again in March. If I’m feeling good by then I will go and if I need more time, I will take more time.”
Staying healthy has been a nightmare for Peebles.
In the spring of 2019, he had elbow surgery on his right (riding) arm. A short time later, Peebles suffered a broken fibula in his right leg. Peebles suffered the injury following his ride on Bridwell Pro Rodeos’ Roll The Credits at the Redding (Calif.) Rodeo, May 18.
In July, in Casper, Wyo., Peebles tore his abdominal muscle from his pelvis and had to miss another month.
In 2016, Peebles broke his back in an ATV accident. That injury led to him having back surgery and shoulder surgery in 2017. He battled chronic injuries in 2018 and had more injuries a year ago.
Peebles, a seven-time qualifier for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (2009-15), isn’t ready to retire.
“I really want to make the Finals at least one more time,” Peebles said. “It's just so frustrating to deal with all these injuries. It seems like every time I get healthy, I get scared because I’m worried something else is going to happen again. My health has been terrible. I just want to have a healthy season where I can make the Finals.”
In 2015, Peebles won the world title and the Wrangler NFR average. He earned $234,054, the most of any contestant at that NFR – not counting money – and earned the RAM Top Gun Award.
Peebles’ money earned at that Wrangler NFR was the most by a bareback rider until Clayton Biglow surpassed it with $243,891 in earnings at the 2019 Wrangler NFR. Like Peebles, Biglow won the world title, Wrangler NFR average and RAM Top Gun Award.
“It always helps to know that I won a championship,” said Peebles, who joined the PRCA in 2008. “I wanted that world championship bad, and it would be nice to get back on top again.”