LAS VEGAS – Whew! Garrett Shadbolt needed that.
It’s been a rough National Finals Rodeo. He collected just his second paycheck of this year’s championship with an 87-point ride on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s William Wallace to finish third in Friday’s ninth go-round. That was worth $17,255 and pushed his Las Vegas earnings to $47,308. He is 12th in the world standings with $151,257.
“I drew the buckier ones out of the hopper (pen), and that worked out for me both times,” said Shadbolt, who also placed in the same pen of bucking horses when they were out in the fourth round. “It’s been too long since I’ve place, but that’s not going to get me down. I’ve been out there fighting for the average all week. Hopefully I get scratched in there. It’s going to be close.”
That’s true. He is ninth in the aggregate race with 723 cumulative points on nine rides. He is six and a half points out of eighth place – only the top eight in the average earn a bonus when Saturday night comes to a close.
If he’s able to move up one spot, he’ll collect $6,995. If he moves up to seventh, the bonus will be worth $12,592. While he’s ridden all nine broncs, he’s had some lower scores. His cumulative total is 55.5 points behind the leader, Kansan Jess Pope.
“I think I have a couple of issues with my riding,” said Shadbolt, 26, of Merriman, Nebraska. “That is kind of how it is out here. This is not the place to train and improve; it is the place to show off the skills you have. I think taking a month off in the season might not have been t he best thing for me. It was the last month of the season, and then getting on two (horses) and coming here … that might have not been the best thing.
“I don’t know what it is, but I have a lot of time to figure it out next year. It’s no secret I’ve had trouble this week, but at the end of the day, you shouldn’t count me out.”
Some of his troubles have come from being aggressive, but he pointed out that the bareback riders that are having the most success are just riding the broncs for how they are; they aren’t trying to do too much or work too fast.
“I think one of the things I want to work on is just trying to slow myself down, which is really hard for me to do,” he said. “I try so hard, I self-destruct. It’s hard to do at the NFR. You want to go out there and light them up every night, then on the same side of the coin, I’m not doing that good in the average and I haven’t won that much. It makes me want to go out there and be 90 or nothing even more.
“It’s s double-edged sword.”
He is figuring out ways to improve, which is a good thing for a two-time NFR qualifier. He also has found a great deal of positives in his experience.
“’I know that it is about more than just winning money and rounds out here,” Shadbolt said. “It’s about the experience. The other night, I got on Dirty Jacket. We didn’t win any money, but I got to ride that horse. That is what I’m here for. I’m here for the hair in the spur.
“It’s never been about the money for me.”