In 2017, bareback rider Chad Rutherford had a wreck in Reno that not only took him out of the game but almost cost him his life.

Just aftet the 8-second buzzer, the horse he was on pitched him over the front and came down on top him, resulting in 8 ribs broken in 13 places, a broken shoulder blade and collar bone, and a collapsed lung. “It was pretty touch and go there for a little bit,” Rutherford says. “I almost didn’t make it to the hospital.”

But even as he turned a corner and his body was on the mend, Rutherford found himself faced with new obstacles to overcome. His career was on hold, he was hurting financially, and, to top it all off, just weeks after being released from the hospital, he found himself going through a divorce. “That was probably the lowest I’ve ever been in my life,” Rutherford says. “I wasn’t sure where it was going to go from there.”

Then he met his wife, Katie, and things started looking up. “That woman saved my life, she really did,” he says. Not long after, Rutherford was back on the rodeo trail. Yet, he quickly realized after an underwhelming matchup with the infamous Dirty Jacket that his body wasn’t the same. “It was pretty definite I needed more time off. No amount of lifting weights or being in the gym, running, training would do. I just needed time to heal.”

He thought he was done for good. But with the birth of his son, encouragement from his wife, and some wise words from his father, Rutherford found new conviction. He went to 10-15 rodeos on and off in 2019 and finished the season 79th in the world.

Now in 2020, he’s been full steam ahead. Rutherford is currently 16 in the Standings and looking to make it to the NFR. “To be able to be back in the saddle again and being at the level at which I’m at, it’s a feeling I never thought I’d have again.”

“I’m so thankful,” he adds. “The worst thing that has ever happened to me in my life is the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. I’m a better Christian, I’m a better man, I’m a better father. … This journey of me coming back, I’ve got to give it all to God.”