LAS VEGAS â€“ What is it about saddle bronc riding thatâ€™s so interesting to Tyler Corrington of Hastings, Minn.?
â€śItâ€™s mostly about the fact that the horse is trying to kick your butt, and youâ€™re trying to kick his butt,â€ť Corrington said, referring to the heavyweight bout that takes place in any eight-second ride.
Heâ€™s right. Itâ€™s a slugfest, especially at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, where the top cowboys in the game test their skills on the greatest bucking beasts. On Sunday night, Corrington matched moves with J Bar J Rodeoâ€™s Tipped Off for 82.5 points, which earned him a third-place finish and a check worth $11,118.
â€śThat was a really good horse,â€ť he said. â€śI got on him as a reride at San Antonio, so Iâ€™d been on him before. It felt good to have him.â€ť
Having a good horse is just half the equation. Corrington still needs to have a solid performance each night if he plans to do well. Heâ€™s holding up his end of the bargain, having collected $25,841 through four nights of ProRodeoâ€™s grand finale. Most importantly, he has moved up one spot to third in the world standings and trails leader Cody Wright by $11,245. Finishing first or second in a go-round can move the Minnesota cowboy into the No. 1 spot on the money list.
â€śIâ€™m feeling good, and my riding feels good,â€ť he said. â€śIâ€™ve been drawing good horses and have been having fun. I try not to worry about anything; Iâ€™m just showing up at the arena and having fun.â€ť
Heâ€™ll try to maintain his momentum in Mondayâ€™s fifth round, where heâ€™s matched with Big Bend Rodeoâ€™s Kool Toddy. He loves the idea of competing on those type horses for 10 December nights.
â€śThese are the best bucking horses in the world,â€ť Corrington said. â€śYouâ€™ve got a pretty good chance every night, and theyâ€™re going to try to buck you off. Youâ€™ve just got to do your job, have fun and try to go with it.
â€śThe fifth and 10 rounds feature the best pen of bucking horses there is. These are the horses that when you see your name by then all year long, you get a smile on your face when you show up to that rodeo.â€ť
Corrington definitely is smiling.
LAS VEGAS â€“ Tie-down roper Ryan Jarrettâ€™s philosophy at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is quite simple: Heâ€™s on a money-making mission.
â€śI came here with nothing to lose,â€ť said Jarrett, an eight-time NFR qualifier from Comanche, Okla. â€śItâ€™s just time to get at it and try to get what money you can and go home.â€ť
The Georgia-raised cowboy came to ProRodeoâ€™s championship event No. 13 in the world standings. Through four go-rounds inside the Thomas & Mack Center, Jarrett has placed three times and earned $37,410. Thatâ€™s a pretty powerful indication of his work in the Nevada desert, planted with an exclamation mark Sunday night when he posted a 6.9-second run to share the go-round title with six-time world champion Cody Ohl. Each cowboy pocketed $16,677. He has pushed his earnings past the $100,000 mark and has moved to seventh in the world standing.
â€śI broke the barrier in the second round; Iâ€™ll try not to run into that problem again,â€ť he said, explaining that he suffered a 10-second penalty for not allowing his calf the appropriate head start on the second night of the 10-round competition. â€śI had a good calf (Sunday), got him turned around, kept him on his feet and put a wrap and a hooey on him.â€ť
In trying to be as fast as they can, tie down ropers want things a certain way. Getting to the animal while itâ€™s facing them and on its feet can help shave off precious tenths of a second, and tying the legs together with one and a half wraps instead of two and a half could be the difference between first and second place.
Having the right calf can make a difference, too. There are three sets of calves available to rope, and they are put together based on how similar they are. Each pen is separated by a degree of difficulty, and the fourth-round calves were the perfect set for fast times.
â€śAll three pens are pretty even,â€ť Jarrett said, noting that the group from Sunday night â€śmight be some of the better ones that weâ€™ve roped.
â€śSterling Smith won fourth on that calf the first night (in 7.8 seconds). I went and watched (video of) him before tonight and refreshed my memory of him. I knew exactly what I had.â€ť
He also knew he had a little more assistance in the form of Hippie, a horse owned by Justin Brinkerhoff of Utah. Like Jarrett, Hippie is an NFR veteran.
â€śHeâ€™s no stranger to the Thomas & Mack,â€ť Jarrett said, pointing, though, that bad weather cancelled his trip to Utah prior to Thanksgiving, where he was going to ride the horse and gain a little more familiarity with it before arriving in Vegas. â€śI wasnâ€™t sure the first couple of rounds. (Saturday) night felt good, and (Sunday) felt better.â€ť
Of course, with more than $37,000 padding his pocket, everything feels a little better.