LAS VEGAS – The fifth and 10th rounds of the National Finals Rodeo feature the most electric and exciting bucking animals in the sport.
It showed Monday night, and Orin Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba, was in the middle of a world-championship prize fight. He tested his talents with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Painted River, and the two danced across the Thomas & Mack Center dirt for 87 points.
Despite that high score, which would win almost any rodeo, Larsen’s score was sixth best. That means it took 87 or higher to earn money on the fifth night of this year’s championship. For his part, the Manitoba cowboy pocketed $4,231 and moved his NFR earnings to $34,962.
“They don’t call it the TV pen for nothing,” he said. “Everyone dreams of getting on these horses. There is not a horse you’d say no to. To just come here and make it this far is a huge blessing.”
On a night when the bareback riding arena record was broken, Larsen had his hands full with Painted River, a second-generation bucking horse whose sire and dam both bucked at the NFR. That’s exactly what he needed, since it marked just the second time in five nights that he has earned a paycheck in Vegas.
“It’s always fun here, whether you’re hurt or healthy,” said Larsen, who suffered a knee injury late in the regular season and is still hampered by it. “Pain wise, it feels as well as it has been, but it’s really big, puffy and swollen.”
That’s where members of the Justin Sportsmedicine Team have come in. He spends four hours a day getting different levels of treatment to make sure he can ride each night.
“I can’t say enough about the sports med,” he said. “They have done amazing. They spend a ton of time with me, and I’m very fortunate. The sports med is a war zone. It is very busy right now.”
That’s a good thing, especially for Larsen, who lives with his wife, Alexa, in Gering, Neb. Now he’s taking the momentum he gained Monday and pushing it toward the final five nights of the ProRodeo season.
“My confidence after the second night wasn’t really there,” Larsen said, referring to a big-time buckoff Friday night. “I’m pretty excited for where things area going to go for the next five rounds.”