LAS VEGAS – There are many nights when it’s great fun to be a saddle bronc rider competing at the National Finals Rodeo.
Friday night wasn’t one of them. The top 15 cowboys in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association all faced the toughest test of their 10-day championship, the nastiest bucking horses in the world.
“This was our eliminator pen,” said Cort Scheer, a four-time NFR qualifier from Elsmere, Neb. “This is the juice, so everyone was a little nervous tonight.”
Of the 15 attempts, there were only seven qualified rides. Most of the cowboys failed to post a score, and some hit the ground rather hard. Scheer stayed in the saddle on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Mike & Ike for 82 points, finishing second to round winner Jacobs Crawley by half a point. Scheer earned $15,018
“I actually got on him in Guymon (Okla.) two or three years ago and ended up missing him out,” he said, referring to the starting position in which the heels of his Justin Boots needed to be over the breaks in the horse’s shoulders; failure to do that means a disqualification. “I knew he was a good horse, and I think I rode him better there.
“At least I spurred him out this time.”
That made the difference for Scheer, who knew he was in for a fight from the time he nodded his head on the powerful bay gelding until it was time to dismount. Hearing the eight-second whistle while still on Mike & Ike’s back was a bit of a relief.
“Usually my stuff feels pretty long on horses,” he said, referring to the cinches on is saddle that secure him to the animal. “It’s not like he’s a tall horse, but he’s thick. My stuff felt tight on him, and I mean he was always bucking. You feel like you’ve got it knocked out, and I got loose about seven seconds. He’s just strong, and finally he jackhammers you out of there and creams you.”
Through two rounds, Scheer has pocketed more than $34,000; only team ropers Turtle Powell and Dakota Kirchenschlager have earned more so far. He is No. 2 in the world standings, trailing leader and fellow Oklahoma Panhandle State University rodeo team alumnus Taos Muncy by less than $100.
Now the bronc busters get a big of a break for Round 3, the easiest pen of horses at the finale, the “hoppers.”
“The pen tomorrow will be fun no matter what,” said Scheer, who is matched with Kesler Rodeo’s Nickels & Dimes. “These are the ones you know you should spur every jump, and you just think you need to spur harder and harder just to make you feel good.”
Scheer feels pretty good. That’s what happens when you average $17,000 a day in Las Vegas.