LAS VEGAS – Through four nights of ProRodeo’s grand finale, saddle bronc rider Hardy Braden is still living a dream.
On Sunday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Braden put on a classic spur ride on J Bar J Rodeo’s Special Time for 85.5 points to finish in a tie for third place, adding $13,327 to his payroll. He has pushed his 2017 earnings to $157,831, with more than $55,000 coming in Sin City.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Braden of Welch, Okla., who attended both Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships. “It’s a dream come true. Every kid growing up watching rodeo or thinks he was to rodeo, this is where he wants to be. I finally get that shot, and it’s awesome.”
He has placed in three of four rounds and is riding as strong as he ever has in his career. This is a good place to do it. It helps that he is doing so on the best horses in the world, all of which were selected to perform at the NFR by the bronc riders.
“That horse felt really good,” he said of Special Time, a stout bay horse. “I wanted to finish one better, and I think we achieved that. That’s one of the better horses that I’ve been on so far with good timing, and it makes things feel good.”
It was the first time he had ever been matched with Special Time, but he wouldn’t mind having another shot at the talented bucker.
“I talked to some guys in the locker room, and they said she’s going to have a move to the right, and then she is going to feel really good,” he said. “She did. She had some timing to her, and I got more of that rocking-chair effect.
“They’ve had a lot of success on that horse.”
So did Braden, who has his parents, sister and her husband in the stands of the Thomas & Mack Center for all 10 days of the championship.
“They are my biggest supporters,” Braden said. “It’s an awesome feeling. Money is just an object, and it’s good, but it is still a neat feeling to be riding here in front of them.”
Not only is he riding at the NFR, but he’s having great success doing it.