LAS VEGAS – There’s no better way to kick start Canada Night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo than having one if its own win the round.
Orin Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba, made it happen with an 87.5-point ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Full Baggage, the two-time Bareback Horse of the Year. It was a powerful way to earn a big payday in the game’s “Eliminator Pen” of bucking horses.
“To win a round in the “E Pen” is really special, and to have it done on Canada Night is just icing on the cake,” said Larsen, who picked up his first go-round victory in his two qualifications to the NFR. “I guess it’s better late than never, so I’m just glad to have a round won finally.”
With the win, he pocketed $26,231 and pushed his NFR earnings to $52,942. He also returned to the No. 2 spot in the world standings with $194,834, and he has two more nights to add to that. What’s even more impressive is that he failed to cash a check through the first five rounds, so nearly every dollar has come in just three days of work.
“It might have taken me a little while to go through the pain and learn how to ride through it,” said Larsen, who suffered separated ribs on the first night of the 10-round finale. “I think once you learn to block it out somewhat, you can climb walls.”
He did that with his ride on Full Baggage, a big, bay gelding that won the top stock honor in 2011 and 2013. He has been the epitome of the rankest pen of horses in the world.
“He’s a horse I’ve wanted to get on for a long time,” he said. “There’s no better place to get on him than here. He comes around to the left, and it’s a boxing match the whole way. You don’t know who is going to win until the end.
“I kept throwing punches, and he was throwing them right back. It felt like Muhammad Ali against Floyd Mayweather.”
It was a prize fight in Las Vegas, and the Canadian grabbed the title belt from the two-time champ.