LAS VEGAS – Every step of every day can be a learning experience; the stage is just bigger for an athlete competing in a championship event.
Bareback rider Garrett Shadbolt is learning a few things about his sport and about himself at the National Finals Rodeo. It may feel a bit like a slow course, but it’s just another of the challenges that he faces in Las Vegas.
After failing to place in the first three go-rounds, Shadbolt finally found his way to an NFR payday with his 87-point ride on Four Star Rodeo’s Dirty Harry to finish in a tie for second place; it was wroth $20,053.
“A lot of these other guys in the locker room have been her a lot of times, and maybe they’re a little more insulated from the ups and downs,” said Shadbolt, 26, a two-time qualifier from Merriman, Nebraska. “Going three rounds and not winning any money was starting to get to me a little bit. It was a lot of pressure. I wanted to make it happen today.
“I’m just happy to say I was able to step it up and get it done and put on the ride I’ve been trying to do on the last three nights.”
It did more than pad his pockets. His ride provided a great deal of confidence for the cowboy who lives on the northern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills.
“I felt pretty happy to feel like I could show up and push through the negative mental thoughts that I had and straighten myself out and just make a nice ride and get back to where I want to be,” he said. “It was nice to have a nice horse. It was great to just get out there and get a horse that a guy can dress up and make a nice ride on and get that to that feeling like I should.
“There are a lot of match-ups that guys have been a lot of points on before, so I was just plain nervous about getting o n a horse I didn’t know anything about. There was no guarantee of a check. That’s the thing a bout this: You can come out here and be at the biggest rodeo in the world, and you can go home with no money. That’s just a scary thought.”
The fear is gone, and, along with the $10,000 bonus he earned for being an NFR qualifier, Shadbolt has pushed his Vegas earnings to more than $30,000. He is 13th in the world standings with $134,002 on the season. He also has a bit of momentum on his side as he looks at the final six nights of the 2022 ProRodeo season.