LAS VEGAS – In the City of Lights, something finally clicked for saddle bronc rider Wyatt Casper.
“I was excited for the first round, and it didn’t go the way I wanted it to go, and neither did two or three,” said Casper, who suffered no-scores in the first three rounds. “I feel like we’ve been in Vegas for a while. Getting this, I think, will spark a light in me.”
This was an 89-point ride on Vold Rodeo’s Sun Glow to finish second in Sunday’s fourth go-round of the National Finals Rodeo. That paid $21,336. It was a great way to get on the roll he needs at ProRodeo’s grand finale.
“I knew by having that horse, I was plenty capable to win the round today,” he said. “I’m tickled with 89.”
He wasn’t so tickled in the first three nights. He was bucked off his first and third horses, and he was flagged with not making his markout – securing the heels of his boots over the breaks of his horse’s shoulders – in the second round. It all added up to no scores and no money.
“It’s hard,” said Casper, the 2016 college national champion from Miami, Texas. “It feels like everyone might think you forgot how to ride broncs. I’ve just not been looking at all the negativity, just put it in the back of my head and forget about it.
“I just needed to remember how I got here, and that’s riding every horse the best I can every time. That’s what I tried to do tonight, and it worked.”
This is Casper’s second straight NFR qualification. He finished the 2020 season as the reserve world champion. Still, this is his first time to compete at the championship in its typical home in Las Vegas.
“This experience is really cool,” he said. “This is what I always dreamed of, riding here in Vegas. To finally come true, it is awesome. The crowd is energetic. It feels like they are right on top of you, and they pretty much are. There is a lot more pressure in this arena.
“I just go into each night … I feel the dirt. It feels like any dirt in any other arena.”
It’s also a bit different for his wife, Lesley, and their two children, Cooper and Cheyenne. Having them with him during this 10-day championship is a valuable tool for the bronc buster.
“They’re good to have here,” Casper said. “They are a good distraction from the rodeo. It’s been good having them around.”
They bring normalcy to his life, which is anything but normal in the Nevada desert. They also make him realize that a few no-scores mean very little in the grand scheme of things.