ARLINGTON, Texas – The nerves that come with being a newcomer at the National Finals Rodeo can be a bit troubling to some first-timers playing on ProRodeo’s biggest stage for the first time.
Jacob Edler isn’t a typical newcomer. He’s got a different mentality than most, and it paid off on Thursday’s opening night inside Globe Life Field in Arlington. He wrestled his steer to the ground in 4.0 seconds to finish in a tie for fourth place, with $8,885. By doing so, he moved up two spots to seventh in the world standings with nine nights remaining on the season.
“I was very calm,” said Edler, 26, of State Center, Iowa, who attended Western Oklahoma State College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. “I felt like I was very mentally prepared to run that steer. I visualized what it was going to be like running my first steer at my first NFR, and my visualization came to life.”
Yes, it did. The NFR pays only six places in each round, so Edler has to finish faster than most of the field if he’s going to cash in. This is also the toughest game to play in rodeo, with big money and world championships on the line.
The Iowa cowboy didn’t let any of it divert his attention from the task at hand. Riding Shane Frey’s horse Ditto, Edler made a businessman’s run. It’s the horse that Edler rode to the NFR; Frey just recently purchased the mare from Canadian bulldogger Clayton Moore, who had allowed Edler and other cowboys to ride the horse through the season.
“Everything just worked perfect tonight,” Edler said. “My horse backed in the box, stood there great and let me get a great start. (Hazer) Kodie Jang did a great job of kicking that steer back to me. I may have put too much power on that steer, but it worked out and we won some money.”
That’s not just good for the pocketbook; it’s also good for the psyche. Getting off to a great start allows that comfort zone to continue to get wider; it opens the door for bigger and better things to come at the NFR, where go-round winners will pocket $26,231 per night.
“I never got to see what Vegas is like, so I just treat this like every other rodeo,” he said. “I never got too worked up about it being in Arlington.”
There’s something different about Edler’s mentality, but it works. It didn’t bother him when Frey acquired his seasoned mount, because that seems to be the way he rolls.
“Shane Frey was actually one of the first bulldoggers I met when I came down to Oklahoma that let me practice with him back in 2014,” Edler said. “Ever since then, we have went a lot of miles together. When the horse changed hands, he was more than willing to let me ride her at the finals and let me do my job.”
The arrangement seems to be working great.