LAS VEGAS – It doesn’t take long to turn everything around when things go right at the National Finals Rodeo.
Tanner Aus has been in this situation before. He’d placed only once heading into Wednesday morning’s special performance, but he changed his perception on his week with an 87-point ride on Flying U Rodeo’s Little Red Hawk to share the sixth-round victory. To top it off, Little Red Hawk was his second of the morning; his first didn’t have a good day, so he made the most of his re-ride.
“That first horse (Four Star Rodeo’s Rand The Man) is a great horse, but it didn’t have the trip it usually does for whatever reason,” said Aus of Granite Falls, Minnesota. “I was very thankful for the opportunity for another one, and I was going to take it no matter what it was. When I saw it was Little Red Hawk, I was pretty excited.
“That’s a horse I’ve been on a few times, and I’ve been anywhere from 85 to 90 points on it. I knew it was a shot, and luckily I’ve got good friends. I went to strap on my rigging, and by the time I had my glove on, Tim O’Connell had my rigging pulled, so that was awesome. It was an awesome morning.”
For sharing the round win, Aus collected $27.487 and pushed his NFR earnings to nearly $50,000. He is 12th in the world standings with $167,785. He’d hoped to cash in more than twice so far, but he’ll take all he can get. He doesn’t allow missed opportunities affect how he handles his business.
“For me, it’s just getting back to the room with the family and recharging,” Aus said. “It’s easy to get discouraged here because the go-rounds happen to be back to back, but if you get stressed or if you get down on your luck and get in your head about it, it’s not going to help you at all.
“You’ve got to always think about that 10th round no matter how the nine days before that goes. It’s a $100,000-added rodeo every day, and you’ve got a chance at $30,000 if you show up and do your job.”
The morning performance is unprecedented a the NFR; the opening show was cancelled after the shooting on the UNLV campus last week, so in order to still conduct 10 rounds, organizers made plans for the special edition that featured only a few thousand fans – mostly friends and family members of the contestants – and was not open to the public.
“I’m thankful the NFR continues to be at 10 rounds even with the tragedy that took place and the first round being canceled,” he said. “I think it’s the best-case scenario for the contestants, and I’m thankful to be part of something that’s never happened before, but the atmosphere this morning was unreal. It’s maybe a little bit less lights, a little less pyro, but it seems like the focus is so much more on what happens on the dirt.”
He will get on his seventh horse Wednesday night and battle for the big bucks again. There are four more chances to earn more Las Vegas money.
“Winning at the finals is what it’s all about,” Aus said. “Standing out in a pen that has guys that are here, that’s makes me feel rank, and that just has to do with my peers showing up ready to ride and having it be as tough as it’s ever been.”