Orin Larsen rides Night Fist for 90 points to win Round 4 of the 61st Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas on December 8, 2019. Photo by Dan Hubbell.
Story courtesy of Ted Harbin
LAS VEGAS – Frontier Rodeo has been known to have many of the best horses in the world of ProRodeo, so Orin Larsen knew he had something special even before he got on Night Fist for the fourth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“When you have a Frontier horse, you have to take advantage of it,” said Larsen, who rode Night Fist for 90 points to win Sunday night, collecting $26,231. “That horse felt awesome. I was pretty happy to have her.
“I’d never been on that horse, but everyone was happy for me to have it. She was really she was really showy and photogenic, so that was cool.”
What’s cooler is that the $38,346 he’s earned so far at this year’s NFR has pushed him up a spot to second in the world standings. He now trails the leader, Clayton Biglow, by $7,663. He is easily in the hunt for a world championship with six nights remaining in the 2019 ProRodeo season.
That’s even after having low scores the previous two nights. Larsen was 76.5 points Friday and 75 points Saturday, so he wanted a bit of a Redemption Sunday.
“I was pretty bummed out the last couple nights, because it was rider error,” said Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba, now living in Gering, Nebraska, with his wife, Alexa. “I knew I didn’t perform as well. I was waiting for the fight to begin instead of me bringing the fight to it. I think me just relaxing and bringing the fight to it loosened me up. It was cool and fun.
“It’s almost a redo. You screw up the last two, and now it’s time to figure something out. That was a great pen of horses, and I was pretty excited to have the one I did.”
With his ride, he became the sixth cowboy in four nights to have scored at least 90 points in bareback riding. It has made for the most exciting first few nights in the event’s recent history.
“We’ve got a salty group of guys and a salty group of horses here,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing. If you can get that many 90s by the fourth round, you know the caliber is just getting better and better. I am extremely fortunate to be in that same locker room with them.
“I’m just plum tickled to be here. I’m excited for these next few rounds.”
Look for scores like that to continue, especially in Monday’s fifth round, which will feature the most electric animals in the sport in what the cowboys call the “TV Pen.” A year ago, Biglow won the fifth round with an arena-record 93-point ride.
“It will probably take 88 or 89 points just to place,” Larsen said. “I wouldn’t be surprised that you might see four or five in the 90s.”
The way things have gone so far, it’s almost likely.
Second in the bareback riding went to another Canadian in Clint Laye on a Canadian bucking horse in American Thumper. Laye put up a score of 88 points to earn $20,731.
Scott Guenthner picked up another check, this one worth $2,115 for a split of sixth after a time of 4.4.
In the bronc riding, Zeke Thurston took over the No. 1 spot in the world standings after a third-place finish on Sunday night. Thurston was 83.5 points for a check worth $15,654. He’s now earned $72,615 and leads by over $15,000. Both Dawson Hay and Jake Watson were bucked off in Round 4.
Jordan Hansen was also bucked off but four-time Canadian Champion Shane Hanchey won another round.