Aus regroups to gather NFR cash

Ted Harbin, Special to USA Today
Tanner Aus rides in the bareback event during the 5th performance of the San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, at Foster Communications Coliseum.

Tanner Aus arrives at the Thomas & Mack Center every night with the best of intentions.

He rides bucking horses for a living, and he knows there are many variables to go into his sport. His plan is to win each night and, if not, at least cash big checks during his 10-day stay in Las Vegas. Through the first six nights of the National Finals Rodeo, things haven’t quite gone his way. He’s placed just twice and pocketed just $4,354 in that time.

While that may seem like a lot for a week’s worth of work, it’s not so much at ProRodeo’s grand finale, where go-round winners pocket nearly $27,000 per night. Still, Aus runs his hand into his bareback riding rigging and gives it a shot.

On Tuesday night, he rode Calgary Stampede’s You See Me for 85 points to finish in a tie for sixth place in Round 6. He earned $2,177. He also finished the second round in a tie for sixth place.

“Every night is important,” said Aus, 31, of Granite Falls, Minnesota, who also collected a $10,000 bonus for qualifying for the NFR. “Money’s money.

“I just keep trying to ride one horse at a time. I’ve got for to go and good bucking horses coming up.”

There are so many variables when it comes to riding bulls. It’s not just the cowboy’s performance that’s judged; half the score comes from how well the bucking horse operates.

“You never know the performance you are going to get when you get here, contestants and horses alike,” he said. “I feel like I could sharpen up a little bit, but I always feel like that no matter where I am or how many points I am. There is already something I can work on.

“I’m just doing my best to try and stand out and place in rounds. It’s very tough here. Everyone is charged up and great. It’s hard to stand out. I’m healthy, and I’m grateful for that. I’m just going to keep aiming for the fence.”

He’s not about to let a few tough rounds keep him down.

“The season has its ups and downs; the finals has its ups and downs,” Aus said. “You just keep on sticking to your routine, stay focused, take care of yourself and be there come the 10th round, and it usually pays off.”