It was never going to be easy, though it wasn’t supposed to be as rough either.
Layton Green, the Meeting Creek saddle bronc cowboy who won his first Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) championship last month, has made his first-ever trek to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas from Dec. 7 to 16.
He had a rough ride early on, however, Green persevered and rated it all as something to learn from.
“It’s been pretty cool,” he said in an interview from the NFR on Dec. 13.
“The experience has been a lot of fun and it’s gotten better as the rodeo has gone on.”
A couple things Green has learned is the NFR goes by far faster than any other rodeo and that one sometimes has to slow down and just take it all in.
“Being out there on opening night, it was almost just a blur, everything went so fast. You’re just off your horse for the grand entry and they are already four rides into the event. And usually, you starting gearing up with a couple guys in front. Here, they’re telling you to get on when there are still two rides before you,” he stated.
“So, that makes it a bit hard to sit back and take everything in. I just had to learn to relax. This is the greatest rodeo in the world and the hardest to get there, so you got to take time to enjoy it. And despite it all, it’s been awesome.”
Green took it on the chin in the first four rounds, scoring on three of four rides with a 79, an 83.5 and an 80. However, he missed out on the money — in one case by just half a point.
“In those first few rounds, I was drawing horses on the bottom end, ones that weren’t going to be enough to get you a win,” he stated.
“These are all good horses, but these were just not up to the same calibre as those top horses especially when these guys you’re up against are all riding well and it takes an 89 just to get into the money. So, I just wasn’t getting the good draw that I now know you need to be successful at the NFR.”
That said, Green drew well in the next three rounds — marking 87.5, an 85.5 and an 83 to cash in on more than $45,000 — leaving him in eighth spot in the world standings, about $70,000 behind top spot. (Results of the final three rounds were not available at press time.)
“It was good to finally be into the money and I definitely wanted to make good on those chances with those good draws,” he added.
“I was definitely excited, even knowing the world title was out of reach, but I just want to keep going and take each round as it comes plus get better each time out. And, hopefully take home a round win gold buckle.”
Aside from competing, Green has been busy elsewhere in Vegas.
He’s had a few sponsor and autograph commitments along with taking in some of the sights, but he’s had one very unique and special experience that was definitely a thrill of a lifetime for any Canadian.
“I got to be in a television spot for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights (Dec. 13) and I was able to skate around with the team,” said Green, clearly excited.
“I had an opportunity to chat with some of them and get some shots in on (Marc-Andre) Fleury. I actually won the shootout competition by scoring three times, but I think Marc was just being nice to me.”