LAS VEGAS – Saddle bronc rider Wyatt Casper is riding well, but his pocketbook isn’t showing it just yet. In four nights at the National Finals Rodeo, he has placed twice and collected just $3,886.
That’s less than stellar at ProRodeo’s grand finale, which pays go-round winners nearly $29,000 per night. In both instances, he finished in a tie for sixth place – it was a three-way tie during Round 2 and a two-way tie in Sunday’s fourth go-round.
The latter came after an 82-point ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Miss Ellie, and Sunday’s round featured the eliminator pen of saddle broncs. Miss Ellie was the perfect fit in that category as one of the hardest-to-ride horses in ProRodeo.
“It seemed like the ride was pretty decent,” said Casper of Miami, Texas. “It seemed like maybe I was a little behind, and she was kind of beating me up. The hardest thing about her is keeping your shoulders square. She really wants to work you into your right stirrup. It’s a little tougher on a right-handed guy than it is a left-handed guy, but it worked out and we’re happy.”
In comparing his earnings, the money he’s made in Las Vegas doesn’t quite add up. If he were to finish sixth by himself, it’s worth $4,664, but every dollar counts, especially at the NFR.
“It’s nice to sneak out of that round with a qualified score,” he said about getting on the rank bucking horses, which tossed four cowboys to the ground; those that did ride weren’t posting high-marked rides. “It keeps you in the average for that big bonus check in the end, and it’s nice to get a little round money out of it, too.”
Out of the 15 bronc riders in the mix, Casper is one of just 10 that have ridden all four broncs so far. He sits eighth in the average, with a four-ride aggregate score of 326.5 points. If he were to hold that position through Saturday night’s final round, he would earn a $7,000 bonus.
The objective, though, is to win a world championship, if possible, but he’d need some big things to happen. He trails the world standings leader, Montanan Sage Newman, by more than $170,000. That’s where the bonus comes in handy. The average champion will pocket more than $74,000. With high-paying go-rounds, Casper still has a big chance in the final six nights of the 2022 season.
“The goal when you come here is to ride 10 horses the best you can,” Casper said. “I feel like I’ve done that. Hopefully I’ll start drawing the top of the pen and we’ll start winning some go-round checks.”
The random draw that matches a cowboy with his animal is an important factor. Half the score on a 100-point scale is on how well the animal bucks. The rest is up to the contestant.
“At the end of the day, horses are horses,” he said. “To every pen, it is the National Finals, but you still are going to have a top end of that pen, which is a horse that is really going to show and you can really show out. It all has to come together and work for you.”