LAS VEGAS – For every spur stroke he makes at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Tanner Aus remembers every mile he has driven and every rodeo he has competed in this past year.
He remembers the all-night commutes, watching white lines for hours at a time. He remembers the miles of tape he’s used to keep his body strong. He remembers the great rides and the buck offs, the sore muscles and the exhilaration of winning.
It’s all worth it now.
“You have to think about all the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to get here,” said Aus, who rode Calgary Stampede’s Tootsie Roll for 84.5 points to finish fourth in Tuesday’s sixth go-round. “I feel great, and I’ve felt great the whole time. This has just been a great week.”
Yes, it has. The Granite Falls, Minn., cowboy has placed in four go-rounds so far, including wins on the first and third nights. He has earned $72,122 in Las Vegas and sits third in the world standings with $184,436 through the season. Better yet, he’s just $620 behind the No. 2 man, Utah cowboy Caleb Bennett.
“It feels good to be riding good here, especially after having a hiccup in the week,” he said. “We had some nice horses out tonight.”
That included Tootsie Roll, one of the many great bucking horses out of the Canadian company.
“That’s just a great bucking horse, one with a reputation and one they’ve won a lot of money on all season and seasons in the past,” said Aus, the 2012 collegiate bareback riding champion. “I was pretty thankful to have him.
“He leaves the chute nice, and he had a great trip today. I feel like I was able to finish him strong, and I got a little paycheck.”
That payday was worth $11,000, which is a pretty good day’s work.
“I’m on pace to have a better finals than I did last year, even after taking myself out of the average by mistake,” said Aus, who finished last year’s NFR with $83,756. “That’s great, but this rodeo is about so much more than money
“We’re rolling through. Night 6 is done, and we’re already on the back side of this rodeo. That’s kind of sad to think about, because when this is over, we’re back on the trail. We’re just going to enjoy the last four rounds, and there’s a lot of great action to come.”
And Aus will be right in the middle of it.