LAS VEGAS – It’s been six years since Mason Clements made his National Finals Rodeo debut, and his first year was his best year.
Through Wednesday morning’s sixth round, Clements has placed four times and earned more than $85,000 in the process. He won Sunday’s first round, then nabbed paydays the next three, including an 86-point ride on Stace Smith’s Risky Business to finish in a three-way tie for third place in the special performance. That was worth $13,042.
“It’s been really fun, really awesome,” said Clements, a four-time NFR qualifier from Spanish Fork, Utah. “It’s cool to see it all come together, and you’re trusting exactly what you’ve been hard the last few months, then to see it start shaping up and paying off. That’s what I worked my butt off for the last few months is to feel this good in the middle of the NFR.”
How well? He has ridden six horses for a cumulative score of 513.5 points and is first in the aggregate race. Should he still be there by the time the championship ends Saturday night, he’ll add a $78,747 bonus for winning the average title. All that helps him as he battles for rodeo gold, the buckle presented to world champions.
“I had written down that I wanted at least three round wins, and with being at the top of the average now, I’ve got a good foot on that going into the next four rounds,” he said. “My goal is to stay on top. It’s going to pay the winner no matter what. A gold buckle is what I’m chasing and, what the numbers are right now, it obviously feels good to see it and gives me that confidence.
“I’m still nodding my head every night to win the round. That’s my goal … keep winning the round. If it helps me get the average win, that’s even better. An NFR average win is pretty badass, too.”
Clements has earned $211,281 this season and has more chances to cash in. With go-round winners pocketing nearly $31,000 per night, he has a big chance to continue to cash in. If he gets on big-time buckers like Risky Business more often, he’ll put himself in position in a hurry.
“It’s always exciting to get on a horse you’ve seen before but never rode,” Clements said. “You watch how guys ride him and how he reacts to the caliber of guy that gets on him. You want to make it how you ride, but you’re still taking bits and pieces of it, collaborating and making it your own when you get a chance.
“It’s always back to the basics every time, whether its something I’ve been on or one that I know but haven’t.”
His mindset is helping Clements make big money in Las Vegas. He’s been through all sorts of experiences at the National Finals Rodeo, and his mental approach is what is helping him find success in 2023. “I really enjoy hunting, and one of the things I do to stay in shape is hunt,” he said. “You’re doing a lot of walking, and in Utah, the Wasatch Front gets pretty steep in some spots and makes it interesting, and you get a pretty good workout. It’s also what helps keep me sane.”