LAS VEGAS – Clayton Biglow is riding a hot streak, and this is the best time in the world for it.
Biglow, a 23-year-old bareback rider from Clements, Calif., has placed in the first two rounds at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and has earned more than $31,000 in just two nights of work inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
“I’m probably riding better right now with my head,” he said Friday after posting an 86.5-point ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Tip Off to finish third in the second round and add $13,654 to his pockets. “I’m just going into it as more of a business. I’m still having fun, but I’m more intense now. I’m more serious this year.”
It’s showing. He remains third in the world standings with $166,320 but he’s closing in on world standings leader Tim O’Connell – he’s now just $31,000 behind the Iowa cowboy and can catch O’Connell by Sunday night if everything goes Biglow’s way.
“Everyone has come to ride, and that’s how it should be,” he said. “The match-ups are good, and everyone is riding good. It’s going to be like this all week.
“My game plan on every horse is to ride them jump for jump. I like to come into it with a game plan, obviously, but certain horses are different and are going to buck different, so you are going to have to change a little bit.”
That’s why sticking to a game plan might not be the best plan. That’s why he allows his feel for the animal to come into play s he can make the adjustments necessary throughout the ride.
Now he and the other bareback riders will test their talents – and grit – during Friday’s third go-round, which will feature the toughest-to-ride horses in bareback riding. The “eliminator” pen tends to be a showcase of overpowering bucking horses. But Biglow is confident in what this group of 15 bareback riders brings to the table.
“You have to buckle your chin strap and bear down every time,” Biglow said. “It’s bareback riding, so bear down no matter what. You have to go into it with that same mindset. Just because it’s the ‘E’ pen doesn’t mean you change anything.”
That’s why he prepares every ride as if he’s getting on the rankest horse in the world.
“I like to have that aspect and that grit and determination on every horse I get on,” he said. “If you think you’re getting on one of those eliminator horses, you should be good. Then when the come around, you’ll have that edge; it will kick in without you even knowing it.”