Dec 9, 2021
Third Time’s a Charm
By Patrick Everson
Stetson Wright qualified to compete in two events at the 2021 Wrangler NFR: saddle broncs and bull riding. That means each night during this 10-round rodeo, he’s got to climb atop some of the best bucking stock in the world – twice.
And that’s if everything goes to plan. In Wednesday night’s seventh go-round, everything did not go to plan. Oh, the saddle broncs went fine, with Wright recording a solid 81-point ride. Not enough to get into the top six and cash a check, but a good score.
It was the bull riding where everything went haywire – ultimately in the best possible way.
Wright was bucked off his first bull, but got a reprieve, as the gate was thrown open too early.
“He was kind of standing funny, so I know I didn’t nod,” Wright said of the signal each rider gives to let the gatekeepers know they’re ready to ride. “That little sucker was fast, and he caught me off guard.”
Wright got bucked off, but due to the gate miscue was awarded a reride. So he got on bull No. 2, and about halfway through the ride – just before Wright was bucked off again – the bull stumbled momentarily to a knee.
So Wright was given the option of another reride.
With a goal of not just winning his third straight all-around gold buckle, but also the saddle bronc and bull riding world titles, it was a no-brainer. Wright climbed aboard Bloomer’s High Rise and went on a wild ride – hanging on for dear life at the end – while scoring 90.5 points to win the go-round.
“I was pissed off about the first one. That’s the bull I wanted, and I got him, and I hope I draw him again someday,” Wright said. “The second bull, I rode him in 2019 here in Vegas for an 87. But that third one, I did not want.”
Yet the third one was the charm, and in fact, only Wright and Josh Frost had qualifying rides Wednesday night. So both riders also scooped up a pile of ground money. Wright nabbed $46,374 overall – $26,997 for the win, and another $19,000-plus in ground money.
The cowboy from Milford, Utah, entered Wednesday’s go-round a bit dinged up, but he felt no pain afterward.
“When they yell 90.5, if you’re hurting, it goes away,” Wright said, before describing the rough ride. “I could feel my hand coming out of my rope before each jump. But I thought, ‘For $46,000, I’m gonna keep my hand shut!’”
As much as the money was nice, what it’s really all about for Wright is those gold buckles, however many more he can add once all is said and done Saturday night.
“The most important thing is that gold buckle,” he said. “Money spends. That gold buckle never goes way.”