| In the years since Chris LeDoux made it to his first National Finals 1970 he's been jerked and jarred, run over by pickup horses, had his collarbone snapped in two, and endured the common aches and pains of big-time rodeo.
And all the while he's maintained an optimistic, often jovial outlook on rodeo and life in general. He sings about the sport, and his record albums and tapes are in demand. Chris has been a successful bareback rider through the years; he qualified for every National Finals since 1970 with the exception of the '75 contest and that's where part of Chris' perseverance story begins.
He wound up the 1974 season finishing third for the world title in bareback riding, his highest finish at that time, and started 1975 by entering the string of big indoor rodeos Denver, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston. It was at Houston that year that he made a ride and just after the whistle blew, collided with the pickup horse.
Chris suffered a broken knee, and was out of competition for six months. It would have permanently sidelined a lot of cowboys, but Chris was determined to make a comeback. While he was healing, he cut a few more tapes and albums, which pleased the rodeo music fans.
He cracked out again early in 1976 and was high in the PRCA bareback standings for the first several months. But during the Phoenix, Ariz., rodeo last spring he literally had his collarbone pulled apart.
"Pulled my riggin' to tight," he said. "I was on Molly Brown, and I could feel the bone just pull in two while I was riding."
He rested a month, then went to the Lubbock, Texas, rodeo and won first. But the bone still hadn't healed properly, and when Chris rode the Vold horse Smokey at Tulsa, Okla., the bone separated again. It should have been enough to send Chris to the team roping ranks, but he found a good athletic trainer and learned how to wrap himself with adhesive tape in such a way that the old injury was protected. He still wraps himself with plenty of tape before each ride, and has spent enough with Johnson and Johnson that he ought to be a major shareholder by now. "It's that tape that holds me together," he said. "I'd fall apart without it."
Just before the Finals last December Chris went into a concentrated training program. He rode a mechanical bucking machine every day and while in Oklahoma City he made a daily treck to a guy. The program paid off, and Chris placed in four go-rounds, took second in the average, and won the world title for being the biggest winner in his event at the NFR. He pocketed $4,912. During the regular season Chris won$14,110.
The 28-year-old cowboy lives with his wife Peggy and four-year-old son Clay in a log house Chris is finishing at the edge of Kaycee, Wyo.