Orin Larsen gets coveted Ponoka Stampede victory in 2023

Bareback rider Orin Larsen proved to himself and everyone else he’s still a force to be reckoned with in rodeo on the way to his inaugural Ponoka (Alberta) Stampede championship on July 2.

The Manitoba-raised cowboy finished second in the aggregate, to earn a spot in the lucrative sudden-death Showdown round. There he drew standout Calgary Stampede horse Yippee Kibbitz, marking 90.75 points for the title.

“I’ve thought about that horse and having him here, so it was a dream come true,” said the eight-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier.

Larsen won Round 7 on the horse at the 2020 Wrangler NFR with a 90-point ride and took first in Pendleton, Ore., on him as well.

“That’s just a little bitty horse but he’s really stout and has a pretty big heart about him,” Larsen said. “He just gets in the air and kicks hard and is in the running for horse of the year, in my opinion.”

Larsen was just starting his Cowboy Christmas run, only taking in Prescott in addition to Ponoka. The Ponoka win will help him make up some valuable ground in the PRCA | RAM World Standings, as well as giving him a long-awaited victory.

“I’ve been coming here for over a decade, so I’ve been waiting for this one for a while,” he said.

After Larsen had to withdraw from the Wrangler NFR prematurely last December after suffering a broken thumb during a Round 3 ride, he had questions about his rodeo future.

“The time off was kind of a big struggle for me, mentally and physically, but I’ve got a good family to back me up,” Larsen said. “I had to see if I still have it, if I am competitive with everybody else. I’m slowly proving to myself I still can (ride), so it’s pretty exciting. I’ve never had so much fun before. I’ve got a whole new outlook on rodeo and how I approach things.

“We’re a long way from where I want to be. I think that’s just the competitor in all of us. That’s the ghost we always chase. As long as you keep bettering yourself. the winning’s going to come. We’re going to keep stepping closer to it.”

Other winners at the rodeo were steer wrestler Dalton Massey (4.6 seconds); team ropers Paul Eaves/Erich Rogers (6.9 seconds); PRCA Saddle Bronc Riding World Champion and Canadian champion Zeke Thurston won the Ponoka saddle bronc riding title for the third time in his career, with 92.75 points on Calgary’s Dandy Delight; tie-down roper Ty Harris (9.0 seconds); barrel racer Emily Beisel (17.28 seconds); and bull rider Nick Tetz (88.75 points on Calgary Stampede’s 783 Armed and Dangerous).

-courtesy of the PRCA

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