LAS VEGAS – Some guys just like riding tough horses.
Tanner Aus is one of them. He got his second chance at the “eliminator” pen of bareback horses on Thursday night’s Round 8 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and it paid off. Aus matched moves with Harry Vold Rodeo’s Joke for 77.5 points to finish third in the round, worth $15,654.
“I’ve been looking forward to the E pen at the finals forever,” said Aus, a first-time NFR qualifier from Granite Falls, Minn. “I felt like I could ride rank horses well. The first time around, I didn’t do, at all, what I wanted to, so I was really looking forward to tonight.”
The second-generation bareback rider scored just 69 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Empty Pockets during his first run-in with the eliminator pen on Saturday night.
“I spurred over the (horse’s) neck on one jump, and that made it for 77 points,” he said. “But I felt a lot better about my performance tonight than I did in the third round.”
The ride marked the second time during the 10-day championship that the 25-year-old Minnesotan has placed. He has earned more than $36,000 in eight days, so it’s not been too bad. But missing out on opportunities six other nights has left a bitter taste in his mouth. He got a little boost from an aunt that helped remind Aus about his amazing season.
“Yesterday I walked out of the arena kind of frowning,” said Aus, who sits 10th in the world standings with $132,045, “and she reminded me, ‘Remember where you’re at and there’s a lot of people watching that wish they could be there. Be sure you smile and remember what you’re doing here.’
“It helped to realize that.”
With just two nights left in the 2015 ProRodeo season, he knows there are opportunities for him to cash in. He sits sixth in the average race with an eight-ride cumulative score of 605 points. If he remains in that position, he could pocket an addition $16,500 when the Thomas & Mack Center closes down Saturday.
“Being focused is what it takes,” Aus said. “I think I’ve been taking myself way too seriously. I’m trying to enjoy the parts in between the rodeo, because I know it’s a privilege to be here.”