Top ranked pro bareback rider competes in hometown rodeo every year

Winn Ratliff competes in hometown rodeo (Source: KALB)

The annual Leesville Rodeo kicked off Thursday night and for one local cowboy, that means the start of another season.

When it comes to rodeo, bullriding is king. But local pro bareback rider Winn Ratliff found his place on the back of a bucking bronco. "I guess you could say I'm an adrenaline junkie. I just love it. There's something about trying to conquer a wild animal within 8 seconds and giving it your best."

Ratliff moved to Leesville with his family in 2007. Despite playing baseball all of his life, Ratliff joined the McNeese State rodeo team after the lure of being a cowboy sparked his interest.
"It actually paid for my tuition in school," said Ratliff. "I'm not your typical rodeo cowboy. I don't own a ranch, I dont work cattle or ride horses. I can barely ride a saddle horse but I'm just your average Joe."

Ratliff went pro in 2011. In December he'll head to the 2016 National Finals Rodeo ranked 6th in the world in bareback riding. This years season kicked off October first, but instead of competing in another venue in another state, Ratliff always rides in the Leesville Rodeo, a tip of the hat to him hometown. "The cenla area is home to me. I try to represent Louisiana the best I can and it's always nice to be home."

Ratliff competes in 80 to 100 rodeos per year and has made the trip to Las Vegas three times for the national finals. But Ratliff says riding in Leesville is always special.

"It puts a little pressure on you. I think I get a lot more nervous here than I do at the national finals in front of tens and thousands of fans just because its your friends and family and they only see you one time. But it's always nice to see them filling the stands."

Ratliff has won the Leesville Rodeo 3 times and has placed the last five years.