LAS VEGAS – Most Canadians celebrated their special night at the National Finals Rodeo on Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Bareback rider Orin Larsen, a seven-time NFR qualifier from Inglis, Manitoba, opted to wait 24 hours. He rode Calgary Stampede’s Arbitrator Joe for 85 points to finish fifth in Friday’s ninth go-round, pocketing just shy of $7,000 in the process. It was his fourth-straight round in which to place.
“Man, it was a nice horse,” said Larsen, now living in Gering, Nebraska. “I’ve been on him before. For a great big horse, he is really quick. You have to do a lot of spurring in a short amount of time.”
It worked. Only the top six places win money each night, and Larsen pushed his NFR earnings to $59,640. More importantly, he is fifth in the aggregate race with 762.5 points on nine rides. If he stays there when the NFR concludes Saturday, he will earn a $23,513.
“I knew I had a chance for a decent check or at least a check of some sort,” he said. “It just worked out really well.”
Larsen struggled to start this year’s championship. He didn’t earn a paycheck until the sixth go-round. Now, he’s on a roll that he hopes doesn’t end soon.
“I honestly haven’t paid any attention to how much I’ve won or the average,” he said. “That’s a new approach I’ve looked into. I know when I start counting money and looking at dollar signs, I don’t perform as good as I should. That’s when I say, ‘To hell with it.’ I’m just nodding to have fun. If I make a check, then I make a check.
“I don’t want this rodeo to end. I say this every year, but I’ve never been dreading to load up the car and go home. It is fun. This is an addicting rodeo, and it is what we all strive to be.”
What every cowboy dreams about is collecting a Montana Silversmiths gold buckle awarded to the world champions this year. It’s out of Larsen’s reach in 2021, but everyone knows he’ll be a contender again next year.