LAS VEGAS – The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was set up to be a tremendous test of athletic talent, courage and handling the mental and physical demands that come with ProRodeo’s championship event.
Bareback rider Casey Colletti is feeling the aches and pains of being an elite bareback rider, now competing on the biggest stage of his life for the biggest purse of his career. He’s handling it pretty well.
“I’m having a blast,” said Colletti, 25, of Pueblo, Colo., who finished fourth in Tuesday’s competition, earning a check for the fourth time in six go-rounds. “I love this. This is the best time of my life.”
Colletti rode the Beutler & Son Rodeo Co. horse Hollywood Hills for 83 points to earn a check worth $7,500. In just six nights of competition in the City of Lights, the Colorado cowboy has collected $32,163.
“I didn’t know that horse,” said Colletti, who had his right elbow and wrist wrapped in ice after the ride. “The only think I knew was that Will Lowe was 85 on him in Elk City (Okla.). I talked to Rhett (Beutler) behind the bucking chutes, and he said that was the last time they bucked her. She’s been turned out to pasture.
“She felt really good.”
Well, she felt as good as a bareback horse can. Bareback riding is the most physically demanding event in rodeo, because cowboys wedge their hands into a rigging, using binds in their riding gloves to lock their hands to the handle. That rigging is strapped tightly to the horse’s back, so every leap, every buck, is felt on the cowboy.
“The elbow’s starting to hurt a little bit,” he said. “It’s starting to get a little sore. It’s just part of the territory.”
So, apparently, is collecting checks in Las Vegas.