LAS VEGAS – It’s been a bit of a waiting game for saddle bronc rider Wyatt Casper.
He’s done well, riding all six of his horses. He’s placed three times, albeit each paycheck was on the smallish end of the spectrum at the National Finals Rodeo, where go-round winners earn nearly $29,000 per day for 10 nights.
He’s almost the “odd man out;” he’s placed in Rounds 2, 4 and 6, the latter coming Tuesday night when he rode Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Hit Man for 85 points to finish fifth. That was worth $7,462; it’s his biggest paycheck of his stay in Sin City.
“I’m just glad to sneak in there for a check,” said Casper, who has earned jut $21,348 in Las Vegas, with $10,000 of that coming as the bonus each contestant received by qualifying for the NFR. “It was a pretty tough round of bronc riding.”
At most rodeos, an 85-point ride will likely win the bronc riding. At the Thomas & Mack Center in December, it’s fifth place.
“I just haven’t felt like anything has really stuck out to me yet as far as the horses I’ve drawn,” said Casper of Miami, Texas. “We are still waiting on that one horse to finally stick out and let us do our thing.
“I feel like I’m riding OK. It’s not feeling as good as it has in the past. I lost a lot of feeling in my three months off. It’s crazy how much you forget in that three months on how stuff is supposed to feel. It’s changed a little We are still trying to find our groove.”
Casper was having a great year when he suffered a pulled hamstring in July. He continued to compete, but the strain eventually became torn, and he was out of competition for much of the final three months of the regular season.
When things aren’t going right, there is a tendency among athletes to try to do too much. Maybe they change equipment, or maybe they attempt to rework the way they ride. The focus, though, is on doing things their bodies have worked at for a long time.
“I’m having fun, and I’m in a lot better spot than I was last year,” he said. “I’m feeling healthy; my family is good. We are just taking it all in and enjoying it while we can.
“On my way here, I had a good talk with my buddy, Jake. We talked about how I’m over-thinking stuff. I haven’t had the finals that I wanted to have. I have (ridden) all my horses, but I haven’t placed how I wanted to.
“At the end of the day, you can only do what you can. You can try to make things happen, but if it just ain’t there, it’s not going to happen.”
He’s hoping it does over the rest of the week. He is fifth in the average race with a six-ride cumulative score of 496.5 points. The top eight cowboys with the best aggregate score at the end will earn a bonus. If he stays where he is, he will collect another $25,183.
“We are going to try to stick in this average race and take a check out of there,” Casper said. “Hopefully in these next four rounds, we will get us a go-round win.”