(Editor's note: PRCA media release)
DARBY -- Bareback rider Orin Larsen thrives in turbulent conditions and handles sudden changes with ease.
It doesn’t matter if it’s horses switching direction, COVID-19 disrupting the season or a new, high-dollar event giving the last month of the season a new twist, Larsen hangs on and often comes out on top.
Everything has been different this season, including the mad dash to the finish line for bareback riders thanks to the freshly minted Yellowstone Riggin Rally. On Sept. 7, the top 24 bareback riders in the PRCA | RAM World Standings competed for $33,840 in front of the cast of the hit TV show “Yellowstone” near one of its filming locations in Darby.
“I didn’t get to meet any of them, but it was definitely cool to ride in front of Hollywood celebrities, and having the town come out was a cool event,” Larsen said. “I’m just thankful to everyone involved, the Steiners, ‘Yellowstone,’ the whole motor to work this rodeo. It was definitely a cool experience, and I think there’s definitely an opportunity for it to take off.”
While daytime mercury climbed to 90 degrees in Darby on Labor Day, a cold snap burst through that seemingly turned summer into winter – an abrupt change that may have played in Larsen’s favor.
“It felt like home,” the Manitoba cowboy laughed. “It was raining, snowy, windy and cold, and they had a wood fire behind the chutes, and it was really cowboy and a neat experience. I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Larsen won the first section of the Riggin Rally with 86.5 points on Sankey Pro Rodeo & Phenom Genetics' Great Nation to advance to the finals where he posted a 92.5-point ride on Brookman Rodeo's Famous Dex for an $11,400 boost in the world standings.
Larsen was sixth in the world with $58,500 before the Riggin Rally, so odds are good he’s set for a 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification when the regular season ends Sept. 30.
“Obviously, I feel pretty confident, especially after today, but I will keep rodeoing like I am 16th,” Larsen said. “We all want to be No. 1 coming in (to the NFR), but I know there’s not a shot to beat Tim (O’Connell) coming in.”
O’Connell leads the bareback riding standings with $112,107, but a few solid rounds at the NFR could close that gap.
Larsen is a five-time qualifier for the NFR (2015-19) with more than $1.1 million in career earnings since his rookie year in 2011. The 29-year-old is riding as good as ever with big wins in 2020 such as the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo in Vernal, Utah, July 11.
“It’s just for my love of the sport,” Larsen said. “I’ve been really fortunate and grateful for the career I’ve had and believe in the power of prayer and God’s plan, so the mix of that with family and fans, it’s a huge deal. I love getting on bareback horses, whether it’s paying $10,000 or $10.”
The Yellowstone Riggin Rally will premiere on RFD-TV and The Cowboy Channel, Sept. 13 at 1 p.m. (ET). It will also stream on the PRCA on Cowboy Channel Plus App at the same time. The event will re-air on The Cowboy Channel and RFD-TV at 7 p.m. that night, and on The Cowboy Channel, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m.
“They’re going to see a bareback riding like they’ve never had before,” Larsen said. “It’s a cool event and a cool place to have it – in a tiny town with a lot of talent both with the animals and bareback riders.”