LAS VEGAS – Here’s the thing about working with animals, even some of the best ever: Sometimes they don’t have their day.
That was the case with Frontier Rodeo’s Gun Fire, the 2022 PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year, during Monday’s fifth go-round at the National Finals Rodeo. Cole Franks, who set an arena-record, 93-point ride on the big buckskin at Dodge City, Kansas, in 2021, made the most of his shot with an 86.5-point ride to finish in a tie for sixth on Night 5.
“For what she did, it felt good,” said Franks of Clarendon, Texas. “I hold two records on her now: The arena record at Dodge City and now the lowest score on her.”
He laughed, but it’s proof of just how good the mare has been over the last few years.
“I’ve never seen her not be good,” Franks said. “She was different today. She’s never gone left; she kind of angled left with Jess (Pope) at Guymon (Oklahoma) this y ear, but she’s never circled around the left and just got caught up in the fence.”
For his part, Franks added $6,063 to his bank account. Through five nights in Las Vegas, he has earned $43,733 while pushing his season earnings to $160,159. He has five nights remaining on the 2022 campaign, and he could add a little bonus by having one of the top eight cumulative scores through 10 go-rounds.
He is sixth in the average at the halfway point of this rodeo. If he hangs on to that, it would be worth an additional $18,188. He’s just a half point from fifth place in the aggregate, and that would pay $7,000 more.
Bareback riding is the most physically demanding event in ProRodeo. Cowboys wear a specially made glove that are outfitted with bind, then they wedge that glove into a rigging that is strapped tightly to the animal. They are basically locked onto the bucking horse, so they feel each move and each kick the animal makes.
“I was pretty sore after the third round and a little in the fourth,” Franks said. “(Sunday) night when I got the draw and saw I had Gun Fire, I was suddenly a lot less sore. Right now, I feel good. I’m ready for Round 10 to get on these horses again.”