Utah’s Rhen Richard and Canada’s Jeremy Buhler backed in the yellow Priefert boxes and put together a picture-perfect run to take an early lead in the round with a 4.2-second run.
Their run was quick enough to win the round, adding $26,996.97 to each of their earnings.
“That’s kind of the run that I’ve been imagining in my mind,” said Richard, a four-time NFR qualifier. “I feel like I got a good start, everything was tight, that was the handle that I want to give. I wish I could do it every time.”
“It felt like the run that we practiced and really worked at,” added Buhler, the 2016 World Champion Heeler. “It’s the one that you want to make.”
They drew on the smaller end of the herd with the steer tagged 723, which gave Richard a good look coming out of the chute.
“He was a little smaller, faster handling type steer,” Richard said. “He had a little bit smaller horns. That was my only concern. He ran a great pattern, left honest every time. I liked him a lot.”
The game changer for the run after two rounds of honest mistakes by Richard and Buhler was slowing down their run to give them a chance to be fast.
“I didn’t try to worry about what everyone else was doing,” Richard said. “I told myself that I was going to worry about my job and try to do what I feel like our run is. It felt the best tonight. I wasn’t trying to get it on one so fast and it was a lot smoother feeling.”
“It is a little mentally draining out here, but at the same time you’ve waited your whole life to be here,” Buhler added. "That, to me, is where the draining part is because you put so much weight on every steer that you run out here.”
After breaking the barrier in Round 2, Richard made minor tack changes on his 19-year-old gelding, Hustler Lena, which made a difference in his start.
“I think I was just trying to get too good of a start. I’ve never rode that horse in this setup, so I didn’t know how sharp he was going to be off my hand. He’s just kind of a winner,” Richard said. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have made it. The horse that I rode most of the summer was just a little bit green still and this horse stepped in and was a huge attribute to us.”
Buhler got the run stopped on his 17-year-old sorrel gelding, Hause.
“He’s faster than anything that I’ve rode here, so the first steer, I was all over them and way too close,” Buhler said. “It’s a hard thing to do to come here and have it in the back of your head that you have to stay off the cow because it’s so fast that you have to get there. I’m thankful to have that horse. He’s been good for me to this year.”
With their horsepower feeling solid and their game plan unfolding, Richard and Buhler are prepared to battle over the next seven rounds of the NFR.
“I’m just going to try to stay sharp, score good, ride my horse across there and not be looking for that hail-Mary throw and set them up as good as I can,” Richard concluded. TRJ
757 Derrick Begay and Brady Minor 4.4 +5
743 Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler 4.2
742 Clint Summers and Ross Ashford 4.1 +5 +30
745 Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan NT
755 Tyler Wade and Trey Yates 4.2 +5
749 Clay Tryan and Jake Long NT
758 Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp NT
750 Clay Smith and Jade Corkill 4.3
753 Erich Rogers and Paden Bray 4.6 +5
754 Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira 4.9
744 Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves NT
748 Quinn Kesler and Joseph Harrison 7.6 +5
746 Coy Rahlmann and Douglas Rich 4.8
730 Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II 4.6
751 Coleman Proctor and Logan Medlin 3.8 +5