ARLINGTON, Texas – In the rough-and-tumble world of bareback riding, Thursday night at the National Finals Rodeo is as tough of a day as any throughout each year.
“It was a scary day to be a bareback rider,” Orin Larsen said while talking about facing the “Eliminator Pen” of bucking horses for the second time in eight days. “This is one of those pens you have to have. It’s going to separate your world champions from the rest of the field. For those guys that got jerked down, it definitely wasn’t for a lack of effort. It is just that way, and I just happened to come out on top.”
By on top, he means he escaped the monsters. There are times cowboys have to slay dragons, and Larsen did that with an 85-point ride on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Redigo. For that, he pocketed $13,327 and pushed his season earnings to $141,949, of which $60,558 have come over the last 10 days in ProRodeo’s grand championship at Globe Life Field.
“Beutler horses are known to get a few bags of ice on your arms afterwards,” he said, talking about the battle between man and horse, especially on the toughest-to-ride broncs in the game. “I have been on that horse before. He’s really uphill, long and strong. Those stronger horses are what I like to think I thrive on. I’m just happy to get some money.”
There was a time at this NFR that he thought that might not be possible. He didn’t place in the first five rounds, but he’s been hot over the last three nights. That’s where all but the $10,000 bonus for qualifying have come from. He earned $11,000 in Round 6, then won Round 7 before falling to third on Thursday.
“We need to work on the first and second half together; we need to coordinate those two,” he said with a laugh. “There are still two rounds left, and that is still a lot of rodeo.”
Larsen sits fourth in the world standings and fifth in the average race, the latter of which will pay a bonus for having one of the best cumulative scores through 10 nights at the NFR. His combatants over the final two nights of the 2020 season won’t be near as scary than what he and the other bareback riders faced Thursday night.
If there’s a gold buckle in my future this year, I’ll be pretty happy,” said Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba, now living in Gering, Nebraska. “Right now, I’m just spurring bucking horses.”