LAS VEGAS – Garrett Shadbolt had a pretty good idea of what to expect during his first trip to Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo.
Now, he’s hoping it continues to pay off. He’s placed in two of the first four rounds, most recently riding Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Guardian Angel for 86 points to finish in a tie for third place in Sunday’s fourth round. That was worth $9,688.
At the world’s richest rodeo, it’s important to cash in on as many opportunities as possible.
“I feel like I’m really starting to find my stride,” said Shadbolt, 25, of Merriman, Nebraska. “The nerves are getting good, solid. I’m not feeling the pressure like I was the first couple of nights. I’ve got some money in my pocket now, and my foot in the door. I’m starting to get it figured out how it’s going to be here.
“I was just happy to get to dress up that horse, show some things I’ve worked on this year that’s gotten me to this point. I did that that horse (Sunday).”
The ride pushed his NFR earnings to $41,025 and his annual salary to $137,038; he is ninth in the world standings. With a purse of more than $10 million, he has six more nights on the season to earn as much money as possible.
That’s important. In rodeo, dollars equal points, and the contestants in each event with the most money earned when the season comes to a close Saturday night will b e crowned world champions.
“This is what I expected as far as the amazing amount of horsepower,” he said. “I haven’t been on a lot of these horses, but I’ve seen a lot of them bucked. Everything you get is something. If you got one at a rodeo, you’d be like, ‘I’m going to win this rodeo.’
“With that mentality, it is a little bit intimidating to try to dress something up, whereas if I was at a rodeo and had that horse, I could probably make a cut-and-dried spur ride and be confident winning. But here, I’m trying to lay it all out on the line and be right up there with the best. I think I did that (Sunday).”
He’ll need to continue that. He’s among the top 15 bareback riders in ProRodeo, and this is the sport’s biggest stage. Some of the biggest lessons Shadbolt has learned have come from behind the scenes inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
“The bareback riding locker room is the place to be,” Shadbolt said. “I think we are just a great group of guys. I’m proud to say these guys are my friends. It’s kind of a brotherhood; we watch out for each other, the jokes fly and it’s an amazing experience.
“I’m just really happy and proud to be part of that.”