The rodeo season is like a roller coaster; there are ups and downs, twists and turns that play with emotions and test talent.
The biggest ride in the world wraps up Saturday in the City of Lights. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is the richest rodeo in the world spread out over 10 December nights, where the highs are the highest and the lows can seemingly drop right out of the sky.
Bareback rider Tanner Aus has experienced them over the last nine days. He has earned at least a share of go-round victories on two nights, and he’s felt the dangers that come with riding bucking beasts for a living.
One night after having his hand stuck in his rigging after riding Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Flirt and being slung around the arena for several seconds, he rode Cervi Championship Rodeo’s William Wallace for 86 points to finish fourth in Friday’s ninth round, worth $11,000.
“I drew Hell on Hooves, a great horse of J Bar J’s,” Aus said, explaining that the horse was having trouble in the chute, so he got an opportunity to ride the Cervi horse. “I had the same issue with (Hell on Hooves) in Killdeer (N.D.) this summer. I was having flashbacks of that whole situation.
“When they offered me the re-ride, I knew it was a good chance; I went with my gut (instincts), and it paid off for me. It was a great horse.”
Heading into Saturday’s final night of the 2017 season, the Granite Fall cowboy has returned to the No. 2 spot in the world standings. He has placed four times and earned more than $76,000 through nine rounds. He has pushed his season earnings to $212,868.
He still has on outside chance to catch the standings leader, Tim O’Connell, but many things would have to occur for that to happen. It is O’Connell’s race to lose, but Aus still has two chances to cash in while in the Nevada desert. The 10th round still has a payout, and he is No. 5 in the NFR average race. If he were to remain in that position, he would add another $23,000 to his season.
“I do have goals for winning a world title,” he said. “Tim is just on fire, and he rides so good and is so confident and so consistent. That just sets the bar higher. I’ve got to focus on the 10th round. It’s all about preparation. It is about forming a game place.
“Hopefully next year, Tim will be chasing me instead of me chasing him.”