LAS VEGAS – After eight straight days of getting on the best bucking horses in the world, bareback rider Orin Larsen has had his share of experiences.
He suffered a rib sprain during the third go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and has continued to ride through it. The most painful part of this year’s championship, though, has been something else.
“I’m feeling 100 percent,” said Larsen, 24, of Inglis, Manitoba. “My ribs are just sore, but other than that, I just feel like a wienie. It’s my pride that hurts more than anything.”
The Canadian cowboy matched moves with Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Mike Outhier for 75.5 points to finish fourth in Thursday’s eighth go-round. It’s just the second time Larsen has earned an NFR check – he placed in the opening go-round exactly one week ago.
He’s also suffered two no-scores. That made the Round 8 ride that much more important, especially considering it featured the “eliminator” pen, the most difficult to ride bucking horses in the game.
“It sure wasn’t graceful,” said Larsen, who attended the College of Southern Idaho and Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships. “At this point, I’ve had a little trouble, and I’m glad to get a check.
“They’re going to pay $50,000 (to the winners of the next two rounds), so it might as well be me.”
That’s a taste of the confidence Larsen is trying to regain. So far at this year’s NFR, he has earned $20,413. Hitting the pay window just two times in eight days at the world’s richest rodeo tends to increase the frustration of any competitor who has had gold buckle dreams.
“Anyone in that kind of position is going to say it’s easy, but it’s really not,” he said. “This sport is all mental. When you’re getting down on yourself and in a slump, the only way to get out of it is to keep getting on. I knew it was in me to get a check, and there’s two more rounds I need to get.”
That’s what being a competitor is all about.