LAS VEGAS – For eight seconds of Garrett Shadbolt’s bareback ride on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s San Angelo Sam, everything went great.
At 8.1 seconds, all hell broke loose. He spurred over the paint horse’s neck, got tossed away from his riding hand, which oftentimes results in a nasty hang-up, and crashed to the ground. The end result was a sore shoulder, a bloody nose and a concussion.
“It was just a blur,” said Shadbolt, a first-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Merriman, Nebraska. “That horse was bucking so hard. He was trying me every jump, and I was feeding him back to him for a while. I was beating up on him, and when he made that right corner, he came around putting that shoulder forward.”
The cowboy tried to counter, and did for the most part. But San Angelo Sam is one of the hardest-to-ride horses in the world, which is why he was in the “Eliminator Pen” at the NFR. The two combatants matched for 86 points, which moved Shadbolt into a tie for third place in the round.
“Eventually he led me to whiffing his neck with my right foot,” he said. “That’s when the ride fell apart in spectacular fashion. I hit my nose on the back of his neck. I was bleeding out of both nostrils, got blood all over everything.
“I’m glad I didn’t do it earlier. That horse was not letting up. I didn’t know when he was going to quit or if he was going to ever quit.”
Shadbolt earned $16,111 Thursday, expanding his NFR earnings to $68,602. He is eighth in the aggregate race with an eight-ride cumulative score of 661 points. If he holds on to that spot when the season concludes Saturday night, he will earn a bonus of $6,532.
As of now, though, he has increased his season earnings to $164,615 and sits eighth in the world standings. He’s been on an even keel this week; he’s managed paychecks in Rounds 2, 4, 6 and 8.
“It’s such a roller coaster,” Shadbolt said. “I’ll go no money, place, no money, place.”
Such is the life of a rodeo cowboy. They all put their entry fees in the pot, but only the top scorers will walk away with cash.
“We have two rounds left, and I made it through the second round of e-penners alive,” he said. “I don’t know that it will be too bad. My hand is a little boogered up getting flipped like that. I’m glad my hand did come out and didn’t hang up. I feel blessed. God’s got some angels looking out for me, because it could have been worse.”