LAS VEGAS – The training he received at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls provided the perfect foundation for bareback rider Mason Clements.
He’s built upon it and has been one of the top cowboys in the game since. A four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Spanish Fork, Utah, Clements rode J-Bar-J Pro Rodeo’s Gronk for 85.5 points to finish in a three-way tie for second place in Monday’s fourth go-round.
After not finding success on the first two nights of ProRodeo’s grand finale, he’s earned nearly $50,000 in two nights. He won the third round, then added $18,490 the next performance. He’s moved up five spots to sixth in the world standings with $185,362.
“Winning the round (Sunday) was a special night,” he said. “I get the go-round win, and I got to bring my brand new little girl, my wife and my family on the South Point stage for the buckle presentation. I was just trying to soak it in as much as I could.”
That provided a little motivation and a lot of momentum as he continues to battle during the week. He didn’t know a lot about the horse he had in the fourth round, though. He asked others, and he got a good indication of what he needed to do.
“He made a big rear out, and I could really squeeze my feet, and then gave me the opportunity to look down the mane and see exactly where I wanted to put my spurs every time,” Clements said. “On that second jump, we were just tapped off and in time with each other. You really get to turn your toes out and look at exactly where you’re going to put your spurs every time.
“At this point in my career, I can see it and feel it. That’s one of those horses that you can really clean up some things in your riding, do some work to clean up your form and your riding. It’s really fun, and I get to do it for quite a bit of money at the NFR.”
It goes back to the fundamentals he learned when he first started riding bucking horses. He was able to build on one big ride and hopes to continue to put forth those types of scores through the remaining six go-rounds.
“When you make a good ride, especially in (Sunday’s) eliminator pen, you know you’ve got all the confidence in the world,” Clements said. “You step in those iconic yellow chutes and see all the lights and the smoke go up, and you look out and realize that what you’ve been doing all year long is paying off and you’re where you need to be doing what you chose to do.”
The life of a rodeo cowboy isn’t easy. Men travel tens of thousands of miles a year in order to ride bucking horses for a living. They’re gone from home, which is especially tough now that Clements has a wife and daughter there waiting on him. Only the top 15 earn the right to play the game in Las Vegas, and Clements was on the outside looking in until the final day of the regular season.
He won the title at the Cinch Playoffs Series Championship to earn nearly $29,000 and earn his return trip to the City of Lights.
“When you’re driving down the road, the tank is low, you’re in the middle of nowhere and you’re tired, but you’ve got two more hours to go before you can lay your head down, being here drives you,” he said. “Then you realize when you get here that’s what you get to do and one go-round can take you from the bottom of the pack back to the top.”