LAS VEGAS – Wyatt Casper’s first saddle bronc ride of the 2022 National Finals Rodeo wasn’t significant to most.
He scored 83.5 points on Rosser Rodeo’s California Dreamin and finished 10th in the opening round of this year’s championship. There was no money, and his place in the world standings didn’t really change.
Still, it was an ignition switch for Casper, now competing at the NFR for the third straight season.
“After being off for three months and not being able to rodeo, to be able to come out here and stick my first one was a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Casper, 26, of Miami, Texas. “I was pretty confident after (Thursday’s) ride.”
It showed on a rank horse during Friday’s second round. He posted an 82-point ride on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Foul Motion to finish in a three-way tie for sixth place, worth $1,555. It’s not the biggest payday, but it offered a boost of confidence for him to carry through the final eight nights of the ProRodeo season.
“Today didn’t feel really well,” he said of his ride on Foul Motion, one of the harder-to-ride broncs in the second round. “It felt like my (saddle’s) cantle kept hitting me in the butt, and I wasn’t able to set my feet. It was a little fouling through there or something. The Beutlers are known to have some bucking suckers that don’t feel real well. If you stick it to them, you’re going to be some points.”
Casper suffered a pulled hamstring in July and tried to battle through it. The muscle finally gave way the first of August, and he spent the final two months of the regular season on injured reserve. He went more than 60 days without getting on any bucking horses, but in the weeks leading up to the NFR, he got on some broncs to dust the rust off and test out his leg.
“I got on nine horses, but I knew after the first two that it was good and we’re ready to roll,” said Casper, who won the intercollegiate national title in 2016 while competing for Clarendon (Texas) College. “I wish I’d have been able to come back a little sooner and maybe went to some rodeos and got on some more horses.
“It is what it is, and those are the cards we were dealt.”
While his financial return wasn’t what he had hoped for on Night 2, the dollars are vital. Most importantly, he has something on which to build through ProRodeo’s grand finale. “Money’s money, and that’s a good thing,” Casper said. “Any time you can get another one down, get a little money and stay in that average race, you’re good.”