By: Kendra Santos
The stage is set for the World Champions Rodeo Alliance’s $1 million Royal City Roundup, which will be coming in hot at the Sprint Center on February 28 in Kansas City. Cowboys stepped up with stellar performances Saturday night, February 1 at the Days of ’47 Lewis Feild Bulls and Broncs event in West Valley City, Utah, to advance from this WCRA roughstock semifinals into the next $1 million major.
Three happy cowboys—bareback rider Orin Larsen, saddle bronc rider Shorty Garrett and bull rider Colten Fritzlan—are singing the high praises of what’s going on in cowboy-run WCRA World, where it’s all about unprecedented financial opportunity for cowboys and cowgirls featuring new money that did not come out of other contestants’ pockets.
For the next three days, we’ll shine the spotlight on these three cowboys—Larsen first—what they just accomplished at the Lewis Feild Bulls and Broncs, and what they’re looking forward to most about the WCRA opportunities in front of them.
Accomplished at a Young Age
He’s only 28, so Larsen should still technically be categorized as a cowboy young gun. But we all know that with the beating bareback riders take every time they nod their heads, there are realistically just so many years their bodies can manage to get out of bed in the morning. As Orin put it, “No matter how well and correct you ride a bareback horse, you’re going to be sore.”
Already quite accomplished, Larsen’s now ridden at five-straight Wrangler National Finals Rodeos from 2015-19. Before that, he won back-to-back National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association titles while riding for the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls in 2013, and Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma, in 2014.
The win at the Days of ’47 Lewis Feild Bulls and Broncs will be proudly added to Larsen’s rodeo resume.
“What the WCRA is doing is more than just a great opportunity for the guys who rodeo professionally full time and have made the NFR,” said Larsen, who won $8,750 for his Saturday night’s work over the weekend. “The WCRA speaks to all different areas of the world of rodeo, and offers the same opportunity to circuit guys who may ride at 15 rodeos a year. I really hope the WCRA continues to expand and excel, because what they’re doing is huge for the sport of rodeo itself.”
Manitoba, Canada native Larsen—who now makes his home in Gering, Nebraska, with his wife, Alexa—earned advancement to the Royal City Roundup alongside California’s Sam Oliver; South Dakota’s Jamie Howlett; Oregon’s Kyle Bounds; Saskatchewan, Canada’s Ty Taypotat; Alberta, Canada’s Pascal Isabelle and Kody Lamb; Nebraska’s Garrett Shadbolt; and home-state Utah cowboy Mason Clements.
Larsen advanced to the Royal City Roundup in Kansas City by being one of the top-two finishers in his pool (there were four bareback riding pools at the Lewis Feild Bulls and Broncs). He did that with 87 points aboard Northcott Macza’s Alberta Wildcat.
“There was a draft, where we got to pick our horse (in order of Virtual Rodeo Qualifier points-system ranking),” Larsen explained. “I had second pick. My first pick was already taken, but luckily the horses were pretty even, which is another thing the cowboys always appreciate. Everybody I talked to said that horse I chose was good, and they were right. She was just an electric, exotic little horse.”
On top of advancement to the Royal City Roundup, Larsen will move on to a second $1 million WCRA major—this summer’s July 21-25 Days of ’47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo at Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City. He punched that particular lottery ticket by having the high-marked ride in the two-man bonus round at Lewis Feild Bulls and Broncs event’s end with 88 big ones aboard Northcott Macza’s Ima Winner.
“That was a horse I didn’t know at all,” Larsen said. “He’s young, but they were all pretty high and mighty on him, and he has a lot of heart and try. He’ll really grow into something special.
“It was a great event, and something I’d never really experienced before. I’d never ridden in that (Maverik Center) coliseum or ridden in that format before, so I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I got to get on good horses in front of a lot of people in the stands for good money.
“It was neat to ride at an event in Lewis Feild’s name,” Larsen said. “When I started coming onto the scene was right before Lewis got sick (with pancreatic cancer). I didn’t have the privilege of getting to really sit down and talk to him a lot, but I did get to see him quite a few times.
“I kind of pride myself in not being too star-struck, but when I won a round at the Wilderness Circuit Finals and Lewis came up, shook my hand and told me, ‘Great ride,’ that was a pretty special moment for me that I won’t forget. Lewis Feild was a very humble, quiet man. But he was a great champion, and a great ambassador for the sport of rodeo inside the arena and out.”
The WCRA does not back down from innovative ideas that make events bigger, better and more cowboy and fan friendly. The fun twist at the one that honored Feild and his Utah-native family was a slight slant toward Lewis’s signature event, in which he won two gold buckles in addition to his three world all-around cowboy crowns.
Between WCRA President Bobby Mote making sure the bucking horses were up to snuff, then handing the microphone to his friend, fellow four-time world champion bareback rider and Lewis and Veronica’s baby boy, Kaycee Feild, for crowd-welcoming remarks to open the show, to ending the event with Lewis’s signature event, the bareback riding got a special nod at this one.
“They did a really good job of catering to the cowboys in all three events, but as bareback riding continues to get more and more popular, it was a pretty cool breath of fresh air to get special treatment at an event named after Lewis Feild,” said Larsen, whose brother Tyrel is a saddle bronc rider and brother Kane is a bull rider; Orin competed in all three roughstock events through his high school and college careers.
Lewis Feild was a family-first man. But his second love was rodeo, and whether he was riding bareback horses and broncs, team roping or helping his cowboy friends to safety as a pickup man, he was all about making rodeo bigger and better for all involved.
“What’s going on in rodeo right now is what Lewis and guys in his time fought for,” Larsen said. “They fought for so long, and their dream is finally starting to unfold. I try to always keep growing as much as I can as a competitor, and the WCRA is another way for me to get better at being a professional rodeo athlete.
“There’s more money being added to more big rodeos right now, and the WCRA is a huge factor in that. They’ve put their stamp on that concept. I’m extremely fortunate to have what rodeo has given me, and more big-money opportunities only helps my wife and me with our financial goals. The WCRA is helping the sport of rodeo in general. That’s good for everybody at every level of the game.”