Archive for December, 2015

postheadericon Pete Carr stock shines at NFR

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was written on behalf of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo for the Wrangler Network and has appeared on the website. You can view that version HERE.

 

No other stock contractor in the PRCA has taken more animals to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo than Pete Carr over the last three years.

This year’s Carr herd was 22 strong, and they were powerful inside the Thomas & Mack Center during the 10-night championship. In all, cowboys won $173,814 on the backs of Carr bucking horses and bulls. That included three go-round victories.

Steven Peebles

Steven Peebles

Quite possibly the biggest win for any cowboy came in Round 10: bareback rider Steven Peebles of Redmond, Ore., rode Good Time Charlie to share the round title with Tanner Aus and Tim O’Connell. Peebles earned in the final round of the 2015 season propelled the Oregon cowboy to his first world title, thanks in large part to that $20,872 payout.

Peebles finished $13,523 ahead of Kaycee Feild of Payson, Utah, who had earned the previous four gold buckles. That made Peebles’ winning ride on Good Time Charlie quite possibly the biggest ride of his 2015 season.

Saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley of Boerne, Texas, also utilized a strong final-round ride on a Carr horse to secure his first world title. Crawley rode Big Tex for 81.5 points to finish atop the average race, and that $67,269 payout pushed his Wrangler NFR earnings to $157,385. His more than $276,000 in 2015 helped the Texan outlast runner-up Wade Sundell of Coleman, Okla., but just $3,000.

Cody Teel

Cody Teel

There were a couple of other key round wins on Carr animals that made a difference in 2015. In fact, 2012 world champion bull rider Cody Teel won the third round on Carr’s Lineman, a bull that had bucked off Teel during the 10th round in 2014. This marked the second straight year Lineman had guided a cowboy to the Round 3 victory; two-time champ Sage Kimzey won the third round in 2014 aboard the 7-year-old black-and-white paint.

Teel rode eight bulls and clinched his second average title. He finished as the reserve world champion, second only to Kimzey.

Second-generation bucker Painted River helped bareback rider Jake Brown of Hillsboro, Texas, to the sixth-round victory with an 86.5-point marking. Painted River is by the paint stud Korczak, which has bucked at the Wrangler NFR in both bareback riding and saddle bronc riding.

Painted River’s dam is River Boat Annie, the 2007 reserve world champion bareback horse that has been selected to buck at the Wrangler NFR 11 times in her storied career. She has guided cowboys to numerous round titles over the years.

Painted River is the first ranch-raised bucking horse to be selected to buck at the finale, and she proved her breeding and talent in the process. Not only did she help Brown collect his only Wrangler NFR paycheck, she was named the rank horse of the sixth round. Betty Boop, another bareback horse in her first trip to Las Vegas, was the rank horse of Round 1.

That’s what cowboys have come to expect with Carr animals. Not only are they rank, but they are key factors in winning big paydays.

postheadericon The true gifts of Christmas

The first Christmas I can really remember arrived in the cold of 1972.

The youngest of my five-person family, we lived in a little house on the southeast side of St. Joseph, Mo. I was just a few months into my kindergarten year at Skaith Elementary School.

We were new to the community. It was a big city for a bunch of country folks from a tiny town in western Kansas, but we adapted. My brother, the eldest, was 15 and in high school – a high school with a student population that rivaled our hometown, the only community he’d ever really known. My sister was 10 and attended the fifth grade at Skaith; we walked to school together back in the days when kids actually walked to school.

Ted Harbin TwisTed Rodeo

Ted Harbin
TwisTed Rodeo

We lived in that little house and in that part of town for three years, and we were regular members at Deer Park Methodist Church, just across the street from our school. I remember Christmas programs and music and listening to my mom sing in the choir. I also recall bright clothes and tall hairdos and men always wearing patterned suits.

For whatever reason, those three years seem to provide the most memorable Christmases for me. For the Harbins, we always opened our family presents on Christmas Eve. In those three years, Santa always arrived while we were celebrating that evening. Since we didn’t have a chimney, he’d knock on our door and scramble away. It didn’t matter how close I was to the door, I’d never make it in time to see Santa fly away.

When I was a first-grader, the toy world was turned on its ear by the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. I wanted one as bad as any boy could want a toy. It was the grooviest thing ever. I made sure Mom, Dad, Mike, Shelly, Santa and Mrs. Claus all knew exactly what I wanted. That December 1973, I just knew Santa was going to drop that stunt cycle on my front porch.

When he knocked on the door on Dec. 24, I rushed to it. I didn’t worry about seeing Santa then. I looked straight to the porch to see my present. Much to my 6-year-old dismay, a not-so-impressive Evel Knievel, battery-operated street bike sat in the place of the ever-so-versatile stunt cycle. I was distraught. How could Santa be so wrong? I ran to my mom and cried, openly sobbing on her lap.

As the years passed, I learned the truth behind those presents and why Santa had to knock on our door. Even though I was a little boy and that this happened 42 years ago, my reaction continues to bother me. Now I see it through my mother’s eyes, she the Santa of record who truly believed she had gotten me the perfect Evel Knievel gift.

As a dad, I now empathize with my mom. I doubt she was as broken-hearted as I perceive her to have been, but even four decades later, there’s a pit in my stomach over that episode.

The reality is we do the best we can, to provide those gifts to our loved ones that they will enjoy and use. It’s a small reflection of the relationship we have with Jesus Christ, who came upon this earth 2049 years ago as a gift from God. Our gifts to others stand as a symbol. As parents, we get those gifts to provide comfort and joy to our children. It’s like a Christmas carol, isn’t it?

For those of us who are faithful, we learned the true gifts we receive this holiday season don’t cost dollars and dimes; those gifts reach into our hearts and make us better.

That’s what Christ’s birth was all about.

postheadericon Cooper, Muncy cash in at Vegas

LAS VEGAS – The increased money at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo came in handy for a couple of New Mexico cowboys competing in ProRodeo’s grand championship.

Taos Muncy

Taos Muncy

Saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy of Corona and team roping header Jake Cooper of Monument reeled in solid money during the 10-day championship that concluded in mid-December. The record $8.8 million purse made a significant difference in the dollar amounts paid out in Sin City, especially for Muncy and Cooper, two major pieces of the Tate Branch Auto Group “Riding for the Brand” team.

Muncy, a two-time world champion, placed in three go-rounds and finished seventh in the average race, which pays out an end-of-NFR bonus to the top cumulative times and scores over the course of the 10-day finale. In all, he earned $48,654 in competition and won the ninth go-round, which paid him more than $26,200 for that feat.

Each of the contestants also earned a $10,000 bonus for their NFR qualifications, so the Corona cowboy pocketed nearly $60,000 in Las Vegas. It all counted toward the final world standings, so Muncy finished the 2015 ProRodeo campaign with $157,307; that was good enough for seventh in the world standings.

Jake Cooper

Jake Cooper

Cooper, now a two-time NFR qualifier, picked up a big paycheck on the final night of the season when he and partner Russell Cardoza stopped the clock in 4.1 seconds to place second in the 10th round. That earned each cowboy an additional $20,731 – a year ago, go-round winners earned about $19,000, so the 2015 NFR payout was significantly greater.

It was a needed wrap-up to the Cooper-Cardoza NFR. The tandem hadn’t competed together any during the season, earning their qualifications with different partners. Cooper, who finished the year with $122,672, roped most of the season with Tyler McKnight, who finished 17th in the world standings and missed the NFR by two spots.

Cooper and Cardoza placed in two go-rounds – in addition to their 10th-round heroics, they also placed fourth in Round 6.

The better news is that the 2016 season is already under way, and next year’s NFR will be just as lucrative. That’s why the greatest in the world, especially those that are part of the “Riding for the Brand” team, will battle to be part of the championship next December.

postheadericon Durfey happy with 2015 NFR

LAS VEGAS – For every calf he roped, there were countless miles Tyson Durfey traveled through the course of the 2015 ProRodeo season.

Every interstate, every highway, every county road and every dirt road led to one place at the end of the year, the National Finals Rodeo. It’s the sport’s grand championship and features the largest purse, a record $8.8 million.

Durfey is an eight-time NFR qualifier from Savannah, Mo. He knows the road to Las Vegas is filled with narrow shoulders that leave little room for doubt. Once he arrived in Sin City two weeks ago, he made the most of his situations.

Tyson Durfey

Tyson Durfey

“I thought my NFR was outstanding,” said Durfey, now living near Weatherford, Texas. “Other than winning the average and the world, it was as good of an NFR as I could’ve had. I won two rounds, and I made two of the best runs of my life in one NFR. That’s outstanding.

“I haven’t tied very many calves in six (seconds) in my life, and to do it twice in one NFR is amazing.”

He shared go-round titles on the third and final nights, posting a 7.5-second run to split the third-round win with eventual world champion Caleb Smidt of Bellville, Texas. He finished that with a 6.7-run on the final night to share the go-round buckle with four-time champ Tuf Cooper of Decatur, Texas.

Durfey’s final-round run was the fastest of his career. He also was 6.8 seconds to place second in the sixth go-round – 23-time world champion Trevor Brazile posted a 6.6 to win that round.

Along the way, Durfey placed in two other rounds and ended his 10-day run in Las Vegas with $71,982, which pushed his season earnings to $153,983. He finished eighth in the world standings. Still, his biggest victory may have come during the third round on Dec. 5, the same evening his wife, country artist Shea Fisher, performed during the opening.

“We were pretty excited about it,” he said. “It took me 70 rounds to win my first go-round buckle, and I only won two in my first seven NFRs. To get two go-round buckles in one year was outstanding, so I’ve got one for me and one for my wife.

“That’s one we will remember for a long time. I watched that go-round the other night, and it will be a great memory for us.”

So will all 10 rounds. Durfey was part of an incredible display of athleticism in this year’s NFR tie-down roping. In a sport made up of fast times and big scores, there was plenty of action.

“The calf roping was amazing to watch and probably the toughest calf roping that has ever been in the history of the sport,” Durfey said. “It’s very rare that you see 6-second runs, and there were multiple ones. That’s never been done before.”

Ropers posted sub-second runs 12 times, including three by Brazile, who also tied the NFR record with a 6.5-second run in the eighth round.

“Several years ago, there was one go-round where there were three times in succession where they were 6,” Durfey said. “Now they’re doing it every round. To watch the growth of the sport is phenomenal. Guys are getting better, and they’re getting faster.

“I was on top of that a couple of nights.”

There also were some down times. Durfey finished out of the money six nights and suffered three no-times. He just didn’t let himself get down about it.

“I think the most important thing is optimism,” he said. “I’m not a very pessimistic person. I believe my best day is tomorrow, and that’s the same whether you’re on your back or standing upright.

“For me, getting to go to another round at the NFR is pretty awesome. A lot of guys don’t make in one year what I have a chance to make in one night.”

That’s true. Outright go-round winners pocketed more than $26,000 each night. For the four times in which Durfey placed, he averaged nearly $18,000 per round.

“My horse, Nikko, has been phenomenal,” Durfey said. “That horse didn’t make a single mistake out of 10 rounds of the NFR, which I’ve never had before. Most of the time horses get tired and worn out – like the rest of us – and they make mistakes. He scored good and ran hard, and he worked every time.”

Now it’s time for a break from rodeo. The horses will get a few weeks in the pasture, and Durfey may not swing a rope for a bit, but the work never ends for a rodeo cowboy. Even while spending time with family over the next few weeks, he will find time to stay in shape.

“It’s time to get back to the gym and get back to working out,” he said. “My goal every year is to be a world champion. As long as my goal is that, I’m probably going to have to work my butt off.”

That’s what champions do.

postheadericon Proctor earns big money in Vegas

LAS VEGAS – Coleman Proctor looks back at his 10 days during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and he sees many positives for himself and the sport he loves.

It was an amazing competition that featured the largest purse in the game. When the final round concluded Saturday night, Proctor and his heeling partner, Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kan., had finished second in the Wrangler NFR average, placed in four go-rounds with one victory.

Coleman Proctor

Coleman Proctor

They left Las Vegas with more than $110,000 each.

“What a great NFR,” said Proctor, a two-time Wrangler NFR qualifying header from Pryor, Okla. “Those are the best team ropers in the sport, and it seems like they always do put on a show in Las Vegas.”

Proctor and Long were a big part of the show. They roped smart all week long and took advantage of some situations when they arose. Heading into Saturday’s final night of the 2015 season, they were firmly locked into third place in the average as one of just three teams to record a time in all nine previous rounds.

“All we had to do was catch one and make $43,000,” Proctor said of the third-place payout for having one of the top cumulative times of the rodeo. “Things played in our favor and won us a little more.”

The top team, header JoJo LeMond and Junior Nogueira, had a solid lead in the aggregate over Luke Brown and Kollin VonAhn. Had LeMond and Nogueira finished it off, they stood a good chance at winning the world championship. LeMond scored a quick head catch in the 10th round, but he wasn’t able dally – wrapping the end of his rope around his saddle horn.

When the rope trickled away from him, so did the hope of the gold buckle. The next two teams – Brown and VonAhn, then Proctor and Long – moved up a spot. VonAhn utilized the average title to his second heeling world championship. Aaron Tsinigine, who roped with heeler Ryan Motes, won the heading title.

For his part, Proctor moved up nine spots to fifth in the world standings, thanks to his average of earning $11,000 per day while in Las Vegas.

“I’d go to work for that,” he said with a laugh. “That’s a lot more than I used to make working construction. Now I’m going to try not to spend it as fast as I made it.

“A lot of this success is thanks to Riverbend Arena, which allowed Jake and me to be able to practice. We had a lot of long hours, but that crew really took care of us. I hope they’ve enjoyed the experience as much as we have. I’m also thankful to Heather Clayton; she rode my chubby roan horse and got his feet moving. She had him geared up and ready to go.”

It all played out well over the course of ProRodeo’s finale. Every round and ever run offered new challenges. Though they only cashed in during four rounds, Proctor and Long made the most of every opportunity.

“I’ve been there twice, and I thought I was prepared again,” Proctor said. “I now know it takes guts to win a gold buckle. Hats off to Aaron Tsinigine and Kollin VonAhn; I thought the team ropers represented our sport well. They made it one of the best finals I can remember. It was quality roping for 10 straight days.

“What a neat deal to watch Kollin. To win a gold buckle, you have to risk more than I did.”

Sometimes the biggest rewards come to those the biggest risks. Tsinigine and Motes won at least a share of four rounds, including the outright Round 10 victory; that $102,000 added to a fourth-place finish in the average made all the difference to the Arizona header, who outlasted Brown by $2,685 to win gold.

“My family and my sponsors were out there to help me, I had a lot of family and friends that were back home rooting for us,” Proctor said. “We had a busy week with autograph signings and appearances, and I got to meet a lot of awesome people. That made you realize what your job is all about. Our job as professionals is so much more than how we compete.”

For most of his life, he has competed with his good friend in Long. They found other avenues for a few years, but they returned to the elite in rodeo the past two years. Their second straight trip to the Wrangler NFR together is one they’ll remember for some time, even as they go in different directions next season.

Proctor will compete with Buddy Hawkins, a heeler from Columbus, Kan., who qualified for the Wrangler NFR in 2013.

“I like to keep those Kansas heelers,” Proctor said. “We’ve roped together a lot, and Buddy and I go way back – not as far as Jake and I – and I’m excited about the opportunity. I think he has a great attitude and ropes awesome.”

With that, the Oklahoma cowboy will continue to pursue rodeo excellence.

“I’ve learned a lot about what I need to do to be a better header,” he said. “I’m ready to get back to work. I haven’t got to be the best I could be yet. I’ll take a couple days off and get caught up on things around the house, then it’s back to work.”

postheadericon NFR a learning curve for Irwin

LAS VEGAS – No matter the circumstances one faces, there always are lessons to be learned.

Steer wrestler Kyle Irwin didn’t have the National Finals Rodeo he had hoped, but he still finds the blessings that come with competing at ProRodeo’s year-end championship for the second straight year.

On Dec. 7, the Robertsdale, Ala., cowboy took part in the Exceptional Rodeo, an event in which NFR contestants help children with disabilities participate in the sport they love. It was there that Irwin looked around and realized all he has.

Kyle Irwin

Kyle Irwin

“To me, those kids aren’t disabled; those kids are a true blessing from the Lord,” said Irwin, who placed in just three of 10 go-rounds in Las Vegas and earned $33,974. “That deal probably helps me more than it does them. (Saturday) night when things didn’t go well, I was able to get on my horse by myself. I have so much to be thankful for.”

He does. Even through the trials and tribulations that come with the NFR, the Alabama cowboy finished the season with $120,574.

“After finishing second in the round that first night, I was sure thinking it was about to get fun,” he said, noting that he earned $88,000 a year ago. “It was still fun. There are people that try their whole life and not make it, and I was fortunate to be there for the second year in a row. Not doing well is part of the job we do.

“You get through those situations and go on, or you whine and cry and it beats you, and you get a job and feel sorry for yourself the rest of your life. That’s not me. These are the choices I make and the life I live, so you have to take the bad with the good.”

There was a lot of good in the 2015 season. Only the top 15 cowboys in the world standings advance to the NFR. One of those on the outside looking in was traveling partner Tyler Pearson of Louisville, Miss., who finished the regular season 18th and just missed qualifying for the finale for the second time in his career. Pearson provided his horse, Sketch, for Irwin to ride and served as the hazer.

“It’s got to be tough to almost make it and still come here to help me and be around his buddies,” Irwin said. “He’s fixing to have a kid in a week. He should’ve been home with his wife. Instead, she and their son called me every night to wish me luck. The sacrifices he makes that get overlooked are incredible.”

It wasn’t all bad for Pearson. While in town, he competed in the Cinch-Boyd Gaming Shootout that took place during three afternoons this past week. Pearson won the steer wrestling title and $11,600. It was a great opportunity for those cowboys who weren’t competing nightly at the Thomas & Mack Center to run for good money.

“Tyler’s a winner, and that Cinch Shootout is amazing for the sport of rodeo,” Irwin said. “Cinch stuck its neck out for me, and I’ll wear Cinch the rest of my days in rodeo and am grateful to do it. Those guys that just barely missed making the NFR deserve to have an opportunity like that.”

While Pearson collected money at The Orleans, Irwin continued to receive powerful lessons a few miles away at the Thomas & Mack, home of ProRodeo’s premier championship.

“I learned to expect the unexpected,” he said. “I came here ready and the same energy I had last year and ready to bounce back into it. I made some good runs, and I had a variety of things going on. I learned to be ready for anything.”

Just 25 years old, Irwin still has many years of quality education in front of him. Each rodeo he wins and every opportunity he misses provides him with the developmental skills he can use in the future.

“I learned a lot about patience this year,” Irwin said. “I want it so bad, and I get so anxious. I heard (five-time world champion) Luke Branquinho say he was patient the other night when he was 3.5 (seconds). I get so worked up trying to win every single time that I don’t allow myself to be patient, but Luke proved you can be patient and still win.”

It was just another lesson learned.

postheadericon Scheer wraps NFR with big ride

LAS VEGAS – There’s not much in this world that is going to keep saddle bronc rider Cort Scheer down.

Yes, his dreams of being the 2015 world champion were dashed early at the National Finals Rodeo, but he maintained a strong mental focus and finished the year-end championship on a high note.

Cort Scheer

Cort Scheer

On the final night of the ProRodeo season, Scheer spurred Big Bend Rodeo’s Kool Toddy for 86 points to finish in a tie for second place in the 10th go-round. He placed on three of the last four nights and left Las Vegas with $54,577.

“When you finish one strong, you prove to everybody that they can’t get you down,” said Scheer, a five-time NFR qualifier from Elsmere, Neb. “That’s what bronc riding is all about. You keep pushing, and you keep going at every horse. You just spur one out, and you have fun.

His final-round ride earned Scheer $18,192 and was a solid way to conclude his strong campaign.

“That horse is awesome and has been great for a long time,” he said. “I had that horse in Cloverdale (British Columbia) and was 88 on her there. She’s shaky when you leave (the chute), but you’ve just take care of business and have fun.

“I had nothing to lose. I sat in the chute and had fun. I was excited, because it was all or nothing. If I’d hit the ground, it would’ve been the same thing. You go out there because you have something to prove.”

He proved it, focusing on the fundamentals. He excels at that, which is why he’s a regular fixture among the top 15 in the world standings. Over the last five years, the only time he has missed an NFR was because of an injury. That was in 2011, and he still finished 25th in the world standings.

“The three times I won a check this week, I spurred the horse out good,” he said of setting the heels of his Justin boots above the breaks of the horse’s shoulders on the initial jump out of the chute. “That sets up the whole bronc riding, and that epitomizes bronc riding.

“It was great to have a chance to ride that bucking horse.”

It also was great to finish the season well. Scheer had a roller-coaster ride through the challenges of the 10-day championship in the Nevada desert. He overcame it because of his love for the game and because of the fellow bronc riders, who are part of a tight fraternity.

“I’m never going to quit,” said Scheer, who attended Garden City (Kan.) Community College, Montana State University and Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships. “I’m going to be here for a long time. I’m having a blast, but welcome to rodeo: It’s a love-you or hate-you sport.

“Rodeo is awesome because of the rewards, and it’s not the money. It’s the respect from your fellow bronc riders and your idols that tell you that you rode great. That’s what it’s all about.”

postheadericon Martin finishes NFR strong

LAS VEGAS – Everyone deserves a vacation, and steer wrestler Casey Martin finally gets his.

He’s not booking a flight overseas or planning a ski trip. He’s not looking to sit on a beach. No, after a rugged 2015 Pro Rodeo season, Martin is ready to return to southeastern Louisiana. After 10 days in the Nevada desert for the National Finals Rodeo, he’s ready to return to the humidity and comforts of home.

“The biggest break I need is to spend time at home with the family,” Martin said. “That’s all I’ll do on my break.”

Casey Martin

Casey Martin

He travels tens of thousands of miles a year and many hours behind the wheel as he hit the circuit, commuting from one rodeo to another chasing his rodeo dreams. He put them to bed for the year on Saturday night during the NFR’s 10th round, grappling his steer to the turf in 4.0 seconds to finish in a three-way tie for fourth place, worth, $7,333.

“I had a steer that they ran to the back of the gate damn near all week,” he said, referring to the track record the steer wrestlers had compiled through the previous rounds that steer had been run in Vegas. “All three times they ran him way down there. I knew he’d handle fast if I could get the start I needed and get my feet on the ground fast.”

Riding a talented palomino gelding named Ote, Martin got the start he needed. He also relied on hazer Sean Mulligan to place the steer in perfect position for a fast time. Ote, owned by good friend and traveling partner Bray Armes, was one of the guiding forces behind Martin’s NFR run.

In all, the Louisiana cowboy placed in five go-rounds – including a victory in Friday’s ninth round – to earn $63,603 in Sin City. He moved up four spots to 10th in the final world standings with $138,759.

He began ProRodeo’s grand finale with a bang, sharing fourth in the opening round on Dec. 3. He concluded it the same way Saturday night, but there was plenty of drama along the way. After the fourth round and three straight runs of not placing, Armes pulled himself as Martin’s hazer and pushed veteran Sean Mulligan into the starting role.

“I fired myself,” Armes said, saying Martin would never have fired him. He added that Martin deserved every opportunity to cash in, and Mulligan gave the bulldogger a better chance.

It worked. In his fifth straight NFR qualification, Martin placed in four of the last six go-rounds. He was just shy of placing in the average, a post-finale bonus that rewards cowboys that do the best in the fastest 10-round cumulative time.

“I could look back and critique every run,” he said. “There’s not much point to it now.”

No, now is the time to reflect on another strong season and top-10 finish. Now is the time to put his boots away and relax with those closest to him. Now is the time to focus on priorities.

That’s the perfect vacation for Martin.

postheadericon Aus finishes 6th in standings

LAS VEGAS – Silver and gold, emblazoned with a red Wrangler National Finals Rodeo logo, the 10th go-round bareback riding buckle had already found its rightful place on Tanner Aus’ belt.

“I’m already wearing it,” said Aus, a first-time NFR qualifier from Granite Falls, Minn., who shared the 10th-round championship with Tim O’Connell and Steven Peebles after the trio posted 83.5-point rides Saturday in Las Vegas. “I put it right on.”

Tanner Aus

Tanner Aus

Aus earned the right by matching moves with Wayne Vold Rodeo’s Mucho Dinero on the final night of the 10-day championship to conclude an amazing season. With that, he added $20,872 to his pocketbook and pushed his season earnings to $169,416. He placed in just three go-rounds but also placed sixth in the average with a 10-ride cumulative score of 767 points.

In all, the 2012 intercollegiate champion at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo., earned nearly $74,000 in Sin City.

“I haven’t even thought about the money at all, but that’s going toward retirement,” said Aus, who considered his 10 days in the Nevada desert as another learning experience. “You’ve got to slow down when you get here and enjoy it.

“Now all the bareback riders are packing up their stuff. It’s over. We make it our home in the locker room. It’s sad now.”

That may be because the 10 days and ProRodeo’s championship goes fast. There’s a lot of activity in Las Vegas during the week and a half. But part of it is because he didn’t cash in until the fifth round, so he compiled most of his earnings in the final week of the competition. He got a big push on his final ride on the Canadian bucking horse.

“I just knew he was good, and everybody told me he was a lot of fun,” he said. “(Fellow bareback rider) Caleb Bennett told me to set my feet as hard as I could, and it would just get better.

“It’s unreal.”

So was Aus’ 2015 season. He ended the campaign with 169,417 in earnings, good enough for sixth place in the world standings. He’s not ready for it to end.

“The good news is, the books (for the next few rodeos) open Monday,” Aus said. “I’m ready.”

postheadericon Larsen ends NFR on a strong note

LAS VEGAS – Every step of his magical 2015 ProRodeo season has been a learning experience for bareback rider Orin Larsen.

The education continued over the 10-day Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. This was ProRodeo’s grand championship, and the Inglis, Manitoba, cowboy earned the right to be among the field by finishing amid the top 15 in the world standings through the course of the long season.

Orin Larsen

Orin Larsen

“It’s definitely a finals I’ll remember, especially since it’s my first one,” said Larsen, who joined his brother, saddle bronc rider Tyrel Larsen, as the first Manitoba cowboys compete at the NFR. “It’s a bittersweet finals for me, but I’m very blessed and very fortunate to be part of this great production.”

Larsen finished the year 12th in the world standings with $114,156, with nearly $23,000 coming over the course of 10 days in Sin City. Larsen placed in just three go-round but ended the season on a high note with an 81-point ride on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Fancy Free, a horse that has been selected to the NFR 11 times.

It was a solid way to push toward the 2016 ProRodeo season.

“I can’t complain,” said Larsen, who attended the College of Southern Idaho and Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships; he won college titles at both institutions. “There’s no better group of guys to be in the locker room with. They’re all world-class people, and they’re all my best friends.”

Along the way, the learning process continued. It’s something he hopes to bring back to Las Vegas with him.

“(I need) to be patient, and your time will come,” he said. “It might take nine or 10 rounds for it all to click, but the most important thing is to be patient and enjoy it.

“I think (the NFR) went pretty good. I know I could’ve done better on my part. For my first one, just to make it (to the finals) is good enough for me. But next year, you ain’t seen the tip of the iceberg.”

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