A solid sterling, completely hand crafted testament to the bareback rigging and to our sport, built by my brother Joe Liles. Western art at it’s best.
History of the Bareback Riggin
This exhibit is a testament to all the cowboys that through the years were a small part of developing the modern day bareback rigging.
Most were not world champions, but every day rough stock riders that spent tireless hours building, shaping and testing their equipment, all to improve their ability to ride a bucking horse with one hand, no stirrups, no swells, just a little leather handle to hold on to.
Through all the various designs that were developed over the years I think there are several that would still do very well on the bucking horses of today.
From the intricate designs and understanding of how a horse is built by Jimmy Cleveland, to the scientific testing that covered decades of riggin’ building by Neil Barstow and the great craftsmanship of men like Pete Hennessy, Ramond Hulin, Dennis George, Bobby Schall, Charley Beals, and many many more.
The fiberglass handles developed by folks like Bud Cooper and Bob Mereness and lets not forget all the spurs designed and built by Bobby Blackwood.
That is what this exhibit is all about. Keep our history alive so that those that come after us, will know where they came from, and the road to success.
History of Barstow Bareback Riggins
In the summer of 1966, Neil Barstow was recuperating from an injury that he received during a bareback ride at Columbus, NE earlier in the year, which left him with a broken neck. He found himself with a lot of time on his hands, but with limited options that didn’t include physical activity he could do with such limited mobility. It was during this time that he decided to take apart his bull rope then put it back together. This led to his interest in making Rodeo Equipment.
He began plaiting ropes and sold them to other cowboys he would see at rodeos through out the next several years. In 1976 he started making bull rope pads. A year later, he was making gear bags, straps and other leather items as well.
On March 9th, 1979, Jim Houston contacted Neil about buying his business, Jim Houston Championship Rodeo Equipment, in Burkburnett, TX. By the end of April, Neil had purchased the business and moved all the equipment to Beloit, KS, where he began building bareback riggins.
The first riggins Barstow produced in ’79 * ’80 were Jim Houston designs along with the all new ROnnie WIlliams Riggin (made to the specs of IPRA World Champion Bareback Rider, Ronnie Williams).
In ’81 & ’82 Neil started experimenting with different designs and prototypes. One of his most popular riggin designs was the 812 Style. On August 12, 1982 Sam Perkins and Larry Peabody stopped by the shop in Beloit and looked at some of the prototypes Neil had been working on that week. There was one in particular that Sam liked and said he wanted to buy it. It still had a few weeks of drying time remaining. Neil stamped 812 (signifying August 12th) on the body so it would be followed through production, and it is how the rigging known as 812 Style came to have it’s name. The 812 was one of the stoutest and most durable rigging bodies ever made. Everywhere Sam Perkins went that year, cowboys would call and say, “I want one of those 812’s like Sam Perkins has.
With the business growing, Neil and Belinda moved their operation to Corsicana, Texas, in 1987. In 1990, the PRCA started changing the rules concerning the amount of rawhide allowed in the body of a bareback rigging. All bareback riggins developed by Barstow Pro Rodeo Equipment were tested in the arena for about a year prior to being offered to the public.
From 1991 through 1999, due to the numerous PRCA ruld changes as well as High School rule changes, Bsrstow increased exponentially. During the 90’s Barstow turned out as many as 30 bareback riggins a week. T he PR91 and PR12 were popular in the early 90’s. The PR94, 1P and 812P were introduced due to PRCA rule changes effective November 5, 1993.
Barstow started developing the High Lift rigging style in 1996. The High Lift was used by top cowboys, including Clint Corey, Kelly Wardell, Eric Mouton, Deb Greenough, Jeff Collins, Mark Gomes, Bobby Mote and Will Lowe. In 1998 Barstow introduced the HG Rigging (a High Lift rigging made to Deb Greenough’s specs).
The Pro Flex Riggins (both Standard and High Lift) were developed in 1998 as well, and introduced to the public following more than a year of arena testing. The testing for Pro Flex Standard and Pro Flex High Lift rigging were carried out by the following: Kirby Berry, Eric Mouton, Jeff Collins, Ty Murray, Cline Corey, William Pittman, Lance Crump, Rocky Stegall, Scotty Drennan, Phil Smith, Mark Gomes, Kelly Wardell, Brian Hawk and Matt Weishoff. The Pro Flex line of riggins were developed for the express
purpose of being able to fit different types of horses. Neil created a rigging body that flexed to fit horses from narrow, high-withered to broad-backed, yet hold the peak in the body.
The Pro Flex Riggins are still highly sought after today (2016), with the Pro Flex High Lift holding steady as Barstow Pro Rodeo Equipment’s most popular bareback riggin. Every World Champion since 1999 has ridden a Pro Flex High Lift style of rigging with the exception of Lan LaJeunesse, who won the World in 1999 and 2001 riding a Pro Flex Standard.
Other Barstow bareback riggins popular today are as follows:
The Cajun High Lift – developed in 2004 and made popular by James Boudreaux, Jared LaVergne and Kelly Wardell.
The Okie High Lift – a type of Pro Flex style rigging developed in 2009 and made popular by Justin McDaniels and Steven Peebles.
Wyoming High Lift – developed in 2001 to World Champion Bareback Rider Kelly Timberman’s specs.
Canadian High Lift – developed in 2013 to Luke Creasy’s specs.
Neil and Belinda Barstow started turning over the reins of Barstow Pro Rodeo Equipment, over to their daughter and son-in-law Erica and Brent Hodge in October 2013. Erica grew up in the company and Brent has been involved in the company since 1000, after graduating from Sam Houston State University.