ARLINGTON, Texas – John Aus isn’t new to this bareback riding thing; he was a pretty handy cowboy about three decades ago, but he’ll be the first to say good things about his son.
Tanner Aus is at the National Finals Rodeo for the fifth time in his career. John never played on a stage this big, though he was a circuit champion in his time – that’s still quite a feat. His son is now 30, and he is an annual contender for the biggest prize in the game, the Montana Silversmiths gold buckle awarded to the world champion.
“He is always quick with a reminder,” Tanner Aus said of his dad, just moments after posting an 83.5-point ride on Sankey Pro Rodeo & Phenom Genetics’ Irish Eyes to finish in a tie for third place in Wednesday’s seventh round of the National Finals Rodeo.
“He’s a big proponent of fundamentals, too. If I am ever struggling with something, he can pick it out in a heartbeat because it’s just something that I’m not doing. He can give me a simple reminder on those fundamentals, and it usually sticks. That’s the way we carry-on.”
It’s often helpful. For his work Wednesday, Aus pocketed $13,327 and pushed his NFR earnings to $67,750. He is third in the world standings with $129,476 and is a contender for the world title with three nights remaining in the 2020 season.
Irish Eyes was just the right horse to get him back to the pay window for just the third time, but he’s making big money each time he places.
“Some pens of horses are more fun than others,” he said. “The thing that carries a guy through is your fundamentals. The tougher the horse, the closer you’ve got to stick to those fundamentals. It’s not always pretty, but that is the way you’ve got to approach it.”
He will be tested in Thursday’s eighth round, which features the second coming of the “Eliminator Pen.” He will be matched with Calgary Stampede’s Soap Bubbles, which bucked off Winn Ratliff in the third round. By definition, the eliminators are the hardest-to-ride horses in the game.
He’ll utilize everything he knows about horses to master one of the nasty animals in ProRodeo.
“You’ve got to keep your composure, especially when you’re in the chute,” Aus said. “If you’re calm, the horse is typically going to be calm. We know these horses good enough. If you don’t know what it is, you can ask somebody else, and they can tell you what your horse is going to be like in the chute, in the arena and what they’re going to feel like.”
Any advantage a competitor can get can be helpful, especially when the foe is a 1,200-pound bucking beast.