LAS VEGAS – No matter how he painted the picture, Tanner Aus had a bit of redemption on his mind Monday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Aus was saddled with a no-score during Sunday’s fourth go-round because he did not have his spurs above the horse’s shoulders to start his bareback ride. With the penalty, the cowboy’s chances of a world championship diminished.
He has little opportunity to earn any bonus money for placing in the average when the NFR concludes – only the top eight cowboys in the 10-ride aggregate race earn average money, with the winner earning more than $67,000. Nonetheless, he realized there is a lot of money available over the final nights of the 2016 season.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it also takes also takes a lot of pressure off,” said Aus, who cashed in Monday night with an 84.5-point ride J Bar J Rodeo’s Hell on Hooves to finish in a three-way tie for sixth place in Round 5, worth $1,410. “You can swing for the fence every night, and you can have fun. You’re riding for go-round money. Every night is like the final four of a big rodeo.
“There’s so much money to be won here that you can’t dwell on it. I can still potentially have a better finals this year than I did last year even without the average.”
The Granite Falls, Minn., cowboy earned $83,756 at the 2015 championship; through just five rounds this year, he has pocketed $61,122. More importantly, he has pushed his season earnings to $173,806. He’s already earned $4,389 more than he did all of last season, and he sits third in the world standings.
“Hopefully I can continue and finish the week strong,” Aus said. “We’re halfway through, and I feel great. Last year after the fifth round, I was barely getting around. It’s going to be a good week. You can’t avoid good bucking horses here, because they’re all great.”
Rodeo can be stressful, and playing the game on the biggest stage can be overwhelming at times. But those that overcome those troubles realize their dreams. Aus already has earned two go-round victories, and he has a chance for more.
He has all the moral support needed from his family, including his new bride, Lonissa, who helped him get through the tough times he felt Sunday.
“She’s solid for me all the time, and she’s right there and knows what to say,” he said. “She has a very good perspective on life, and when you want to be down in the dumps about missing a horse out in a go-round, she reminds you the things that are important. There are lots of people that ride horses phenomenally that aren’t here and wish they could be here.
“You’ve got to remember that the possibility of failure is what makes success so sweet.”
That approach has worked well so far.