LAS VEGAS – He doesn’t like it, but Orin Larsen has figured out how to ride in pain.
He did it two years ago, when he had rib issues at the beginning of the National Finals Rodeo and kept him out of the pay window for the first five rounds. He finished that year’s championship by placing in the final five nights, including the Round 8 victory.
He’s dealing with the pain again this year, a few weeks after having knee surgery to fix a torn meniscus in his left knee. On Wednesday night, he blocked it out while riding Frontier Rodeo’s Tip Off for 89 points to win the seventh round and pocket an additional $26,231.
“It’s going to be weird when I’m healthy,” said Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba. It’s something I’m really not wanting, but I’m fortunate to be here healthy or not.”
When he won 660-some days ago, it was also on a Frontier animal, two-time Bareback Horse of the Year Full Baggage.
“Once you learn to deal with a little bit of pain, you do whatever it takes to get through it,” he said. “The (Justin) Sports Med has done a great job with it.”
He receives treatment several hours a day to make sure his knee is prepared for the rough-and-tumble game that is bareback riding. Cowboys wedge their hands into their riggings, which are strapped tightly to the backs of bucking horses.
It was the second time cowboys have won money on the back of Tip Off. Clayton Biglow scored 86.5 points last Friday to finish third in the second round. The Frontier horse has helped cowboys to nearly $42,000 in his two trips inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Clayton spurred the hair off him earlier this week,” Larsen said. “I knew he was dang sure a really good chance in this pen. Frontier has some of the best horses in the world, and they keep getting better and better.”
While it’s been two years since his last go-round win, it’s something the Canadian cowboy appreciates.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a few years now, and I’m happy to get it off my back,” he said. “You’ve got to learn to have fun when things aren’t really going your way. You learn to have fun and enjoy the process of being here.”
He’s got $61,192 reasons to enjoy it; that’s how much he’s won through seven nights of ProRodeo’s grand championship. He’s pushed his season earnings to $191,847. He is fifth in the world standings. He’s doing it despite a knee that swells like a watermelon every night.
“It’s amazing how much she’s done for me, both mentally and keeping me sound when I’m not in with sports med,” Larsen said of his wife, Alexa, with whom he’s been married for 14 months. “I can’t say enough about Lex.”
Rodeo has always been a family business, and Alexa Larsen is proving it to her husband.