LAS VEGAS – John Aus rode bareback horses for a long time and, in 1988, he won the title in the Great Lakes Circuit.
He even raised a bareback rider, who has taken the game to a bigger level and on a bigger stage. Tanner Aus is now a four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and that brings more pride to his father than is publicly discussed.
“My dad is still my harshest critic and my closest mentor,” said Tanner Aus, who rode Cervi Championship Rodeo’s William Wallace for 88.5 points to finish in a tie for third place in Friday’s ninth round of the National Finals Rodeo. “He watches and picks apart my rides.”
It’s not that the younger Aus minds at all. It’s what’s made him one of the greatest bareback riders in the game and why he has earned $78,750 in nine nights in Las Vegas. He knows each suggestion is to help make each ride better, and that’s always a goal.
“Of course, my traveling partners are always on me, too, but my dad will always tell me the truth,” he said. “He sees the things I need to work on, and I really appreciate that.
“Ty (Breuer) and Steven (Dent) go down the road with me all year long, and we get to know each other really god, we get to know each other’s family. To be out there with those guys means a lot to me. Having my wife and daughter close with me keeps me going every day, in and outside the arena.”
It’s helping over the course of the first nine rounds of ProRodeo’s grand championship. He’s pushed his season earnings to $160,345 and sits eighth in the world standings with the 10th round remaining.
Of course, it helps to be matched with top-caliber horses via the random draw, which is exactly what Aus found in William Wallace. It was the third time the two had danced across the arena, so Aus knew what to expect.
“I knew that horse was going to do its job; I just had to do mine,” he said. “This pen was pretty fun, a good riding contest. It was a lot of fun to spectate, too. I knew that horse was good, and I was thankful to have it. I’m just trying to finish off the week strong and keep it rolling.”
His only hiccup came in the first round of the NFR, when he was saddled with a no-score. That took him out of the all-important average, which pays a bonus of more than $67,000 to the cowboy who has the best 10-ride cumulative score when the championship concludes Saturday.
“It’s been great, and it showed that you can be out of the average and still have a great NFR,” said Aus of Granite Falls, Minnesota. You have to keep your head on straight and still go for round wins. I’ve been trying my guts out, and it’s been a blast.”