Monke column: Hausauer hoping to ride back to NFRTwo years after making his first and only appearance at the National Finals Rodeo, Dusty Hausauer is working to find his way back.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Two years after making his first and only appearance at the National Finals Rodeo, Dusty Hausauer is working to find his way back.
In 2008, the Dickinson saddle bronc rider burst onto the national rodeo scene, winning the Canadian Finals and finishing ninth in the world standings with $115,857 in earnings. He also collected big bucks that season by winning the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo and the Ellensburg (Wash.) Rodeo.
Since then, however, his career has been a mixed bag.
Hausauer believes his downslide began with a back contusion sustained during the 2009 Fourth of July run.
After a rough ride, Hausauer’s back swelled, filling with blood. It caused him to sit out much of the lucrative “Cowboy Christmas” campaign.
That year, at the end of the regular season in September, the injury came back to haunt him. Hausauer finished 16th in the world standings — $3,200 and one place away from reaching the NFR.
While he was relatively healthy throughout 2010, Hausauer felt a series of tough draws, equipment problems and bad habits learned while riding injured in 2009 hindered his performance.
“It just felt like the year before, I couldn’t draw a bad horse and it felt like every time I turned around last year, it was kind of the other way,” he said. “What goes around comes around, I guess. You’ve got to take advantage of when you have the good ones. It felt like, last year, when I did have the good ones, I didn’t capitalize on them like I should of.”
Hausauer picked up just three wins in 2010 and finished 27th in the world standings with $32,595 in earnings.
“I won enough to keep going, but I never did feel like I was riding at my full potential,” Hausauer said.
Hausauer, 28, said he is regaining the confidence he had during his banner 2008 season and believes 2011 will be a year of resurgence.
He begins the season at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver in early January. Professional cowboys who have strong performances at the high-paying rodeo typically use it as a springboard into good seasons.
However, getting back to the NFR is about more than just riding well, Hausauer said.
The 5-foot-6 cowboy said keeping his core and back muscles in top shape so he can remain healthy over the more grueling times of the season is one of his main goals in the upcoming year.
“I’ve been getting up to the gym and have been working on things I need to just stay competitive,” Hausauer said. “That makes you feel better all-around, when you’re working out and are physically fit.”
Hausauer has the tools and the talent to get back to the top level of saddle bronc riding in the near future.
If he needs any reason to believe that, he needs only to look at his traveling partner, Shaun Stroh.
At 38 years old, the Dickinson saddle bronc rider made the fifth NFR appearance of his career earlier this month. When he was Hausauer’s age, Stroh was still four years away from his first trip to big show.
“I’ve set really high goals, like I do every year,” Hausauer said. “I’m going into these rodeos really positive and I’ve kind of learned from the mistakes I’ve made the last couple years.”
Monke is the Sports Editor of The Dickinson Press, which is owned by Forum Communications Co. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at monke.areavoices.com