Overcoming obstacles to become a national rodeo champion in Kissimmee
RC (Robert Cole) Landingham is known for being tough as nails, a dedicated hard worker, a motivator and an inspiration to many. But it hasn’t been easy for RC. Overcoming all the obstacles in his way, he went on to become a national rodeo champion in Kissimmee!
At the age of 4, RC started riding sheep then graduated to calves. His stepfather, Ty Skiver, helped him get his initial start in rodeo. When he was old enough, he began riding junior bulls, then senior bulls and by the end of middle school, he was riding bareback horses—a fairly common progression for rodeo contestants. In 2003, Kelly Wardell put on a clinic at RC’s house when RC first started riding bareback horses. “He’s a great friend to my family. He’s in better shape than 90% of the bareback riders today. He helped me learn to ride the way I do today,” said RC, who admires Kelly for being a true rodeo legend.
Having learned from the best, RC set his sights on winning a world champion title. Any cowboy can tell you this is no easy feat. While trying to achieve this goal, he had many successes and many failures along the way.
In March of 2010, RC was riding a bull in Houston when he got hung up and stepped on. From this accident, he suffered three broken ribs, a fractured back, pelvis, and shoulder blade, a collapsed lung and a lacerated liver. It was a doozy of a wreck and, as crazy as it was, it only took RC two and a half months to recover.
In 2011, RC was involved in a car accident. His vehicle lost control and hit a tree doing 65 mph. During the accident, he shattered his left leg from his hip to his ankle, broke two bones in his right hand (his riding hand), broke his femur in two places, tore his PCL and ACL in his knee and was rendered unconscious. “I woke up in Portland, Oregon in the hospital and they told me I had nine screws and two titanium rods, one from hip to knee and one from knee to ankle. A lot of people did not believe I would walk again or ride again.” This accident put him out of rodeoing for the rest of 2011 and half of 2012. When he did return to ride, on his 13th horse out, he rode scoring 90 points in Silver City, Mexico.
After making this incredible comeback in 2012, he was riding at Puyallup, Washington on a horse called Trail Dust when he ruptured two discs in his neck, C5 and C6. He ended up taking only a few weeks off. In his downtime, he built himself a neck brace that would ultimately help his neck once he recovered. “A lot of guys are now using my technique on their own neck braces.” Still determined to never quit, RC finished out the year relatively healthy in 2012.
It was in August of 2013 that RC’s life changed forever. His mother, Wendy Skiver, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In 2013, RC finished 16th in the world standings, missing the opportunity to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) by one place. Each year, only the top 15 in the world get to compete at the WNFR. With the news of his mother’s health and missing his chance to compete in the WNFR, RC was determined now more than ever to achieve his goals.
RC gave his best efforts in 2014 and 2015, again falling short of qualifying for the WNFR. But in 2016, his luck changed for the better. In 2016, he qualified for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) in Kissimmee. He also qualified to compete at the WNFR, entering Las Vegas sitting in 5th place in the world standings. That year, RC won two rounds during the WNFR, earning $100,000 and placing in the average. He may not have won a world title, but his mother was present to watch him win two rounds, cheering him on from the grandstands.
After they returned from Vegas, his mom fell very ill. At 48 years young, on February 3, 2017, Wendy Skiver passed away.
Less than two months after her passing, RC packed his bags and headed for Kissimmee to compete at the RNCFR. It was on April 9, 2017 that he rode Korkow Rodeo’s horse, Onion Ring, scoring 88.5 points to become the RNCFR bareback national champion. He also landed himself on the cover of the Pro Rodeo Sports News Magazine. “Winning the RNCFR was great. It’s been the biggest thing I have done so far in my career. It gave me the opportunity to potentially qualify for the next WNFR.”
When asked how he overcame all of his challenges, RC said, “I watched my mom fight everyday and through the last few years of her life. She gave me so much positivity to hold onto. She was the most positive person I have ever known. She has always been there for me. She has always been my biggest fan.”
RC may still be working on winning a world title, but today he is thrilled to have achieved a national championship title in Kissimmee. Don’t think you’ve seen the last of him. He is always coming back for more!
To the future cowboys of tomorrow, “It’s not going to be easy, nothing in life is easy. Never give up. It’s gonna get hard and it can always get worse. Never give up on your goals and dreams because whatever you set your mind to is possible.” – RC Landingham