LAS VEGAS – There’s a certain feel that comes to riding a bucking horse that few people will ever realize.
Orin Larsen knows that feeling. He knows what it means to strap his rigging to a horse’s back, then tangle with the beast for a long 8 seconds. On Tuesday night during the sixth go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the Inglis, Manitoba, cowboy fought his way to another paycheck with an 85.5-point ride on J Bar J’s Beyond Bugs.
“Everyone doesn’t just come to the finals for the money, but it’s also because it’s our Super Bowl,” said Larsen, who lives much of the year in Gering, Neb. “To have the money available to us, that makes or breaks a lot of our years.”
He has been making money. Tuesday’s ride was worth $15,654 and pushed his NFR take to nearly $72,000. He has moved up to fifth in the world standings with $171,009.
“You have always dreamed of having a good finals,” said Larsen, who won intercollegiate championships at both the College of Southern Idaho and Oklahoma Panhandle State University. “it might have taken me three years to get there, but it’s everything I’ve wished for and worked for.
“It is a pretty awesome feeling to be one of those people to say that you had a good finals.”
In his first venture to Sin City in 2015, he placed in just three rounds and earned just $23,000. While that seems like a pretty good 10 days, go-round winners pocket more than $26,000. A year ago, he suffered a rib injury early and spent the first five rounds learning to ride through the pain. Once he figured it out, he reached the pay window each of the final five nights.
“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing: One a ta time,” he said. “It is an awesome feeling to be on a hot streak. We all go through spells every now and then, whether you’re riding good or not. When you’re hot, you’re not, and when you’re not, you’re not. But when you are hot, you can spur Godzilla, and it is pretty.”
He doesn’t have to try to ride the fictional monster, but he does face the rankest bucking horses every night. Only the top animals are selected to perform at the NFR, and Larsen has proven he likes them.
Now he has four more nights to make it count.