To most ProRodeo observers, Mike Outhier is a pretty good saddle bronc rider. Outhier fancies himself as an all-around hand.
Maybe now, after his performance at the Da'le Gas Pro Rodeo in Del Rio, Texas, he'll change a few minds.
Outhier finished second in the second round of tie-down roping with a run of 8.3 seconds to earn $611. While that doesn't sound like much, the money pushed his earnings in tie-down roping for the year to $1,200, all but locking up the Linderman Award, given annually to the cowboy who earns at least $1,000 in three events with at least one being a timed event and at least one being a roughstock event.
Outhier now has a combined total of $79,298 in saddle bronc riding ($57,188), bareback riding ($11,911) and tie-down roping. The total more than doubles that of three-time Linderman Award winner Kyle Whitaker, who, at $32,992, sits second in this year's Linderman Award standings.
"I was finally glad to at least qualify for the deal," said Outhier, 27, of Utopia, Texas.
Outhier, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in saddle bronc riding, has been trying to qualify for the Linderman Award since he joined the PRCA in 1998. He came close last year, winning the requisite $1,000 minimum in saddle bronc riding and bareback riding, he fell about $200 short in tie-down roping.
"Last year I entered at Junction, Texas, and was 7.7 seconds on the first one. I won almost $800," Outhier said. "Then I entered about three more rodeos after that and I didn't win anything."
Outhier changed his approach this year. And the past month focused his efforts in winning $1,000 in tie-down roping.
"I've always roped a few calves," Outhier said. "If I won, great. If I didn't, it wasn't a big deal. This year I made sure I at least qualified."
That is much easier said than done.
"All the rodeos I usually enter are one headers in the bronc riding," Outhier said. "If you're going to do both of them [tie-down roping and saddle bronc riding] at the same rodeo, you've got to go there, usually for slack, and then if you don't get up in the same day you're up in the bronc riding, you've got to find someone to trade with you. It's a real hassle to have to do it like that.
"I wish I could have just gone to a few rodeos to win my $1,000, but I live down here in Texas. It's tough. Everywhere I went, you've got to be eight [seconds] to place. I was at Liberty, Texas, and was 8.5 [seconds and didn't win anything."
Making it tougher, Outhier faced many of the best tie-down ropers in the PRCA, hoping to make a final run at qualifying for the Wrangler NFR.
"Everywhere I went, especially this time of year, which is probably not a good time of year for me to have to win $1,000, the top 30 guys in the world were there, too," Outhier said. "I was glad to finally win some dough."
Now, Outhier can focus on locking up a berth in the Wrangler NFR in saddle bronc riding. He needs to win a little bit more to secure a spot in the Top 15.
He'll enter the American Royal Rodeo in Kansas City, Mo., and the Grand National in San Francisco, and has qualified for the Pace Picante ProRodeo Classic, presented by The Interstate Batteries Texas Stampede, in Dallas (Nov. 12-14).
"I'm close [to qualifying]," Outhier said. "If I can win another couple thousand, I'd feel a little better. I'm 12th right now. There are a few guys who can catch me."