Jordan Larson has a secret
By JOE KUSEK
October 12, 2023
Jordan Larson has a secret.
“I’m from California. Don’t tell anyone,” he said, followed by a good laugh.
While a relative newcomer to Big Sky Country, the 24-year-old cowboy from Charlo is making himself right at home at rodeo arenas across the Treasure State.
Larson leads the bareback riding standings heading into the 48th Annual Northern Rodeo Association Finals presented by nuWest Builders.
The NRA Finals are Oct. 26-28 at Majestic Valley Arena in Kalispell.
The Finals showcase the top 10 in each discipline from the 2023 Mountain Health Co-op Tour. The three high-energy performances will determine year-end champions in nine events, along with the all-around cowboy and all-around cowgirl titles.
Larson earned $7,039 during the season and has a lead of $1,676 over friend and traveling partner Nathaniel Dearhamer of Bozeman. Both are competing in Kalispell for a second straight year.
“I’m ready to go have some fun,” said Larson. “I don’t stress about that (the title). I have to finish what I need to do. Go out each night, get on some good horses and do my job.
“I’m happy where I am at.”
Larson had an event-best six victories among his 12 top-four finishes.
He was the hottest bareback rider going the last six weeks of the regular season. Larson won Eureka and Plentywood on successive weekends in July and added victories at Superior, Deer Lodge and Wibaux in August. He also won the season finale at Helmville during Labor Day weekend.
“The last month, it just clicked,” Larson said. “I was getting on good horses and pushed the bad thoughts out of the way.”
He was also second at Chinook and Hamilton and fourth at Boulder.
Larson put an exclamation point on his summer with a 91-point ride to win Helmville. The eight seconds aboard 889 Glacier Park of Red Eye Rodeo Company is the high-mark ride of the year.
“That was crazy,” said Larson. “I almost turned out of that rodeo. My elbow was sore but my friends told me to enter. ‘All right I’ll get on.’ I’m glad I did. I knew it was a good one. I was not going to argue.”
He grew up on a horse farm in Lodi, California. When his father Eric retired from the Oakland Police Department, Larson’s parents purchased a ranch outside Ronan. The son followed a couple of years later.
“The only time I had been in Montana is when I came out in 2017 to scope it out,” Larson said. “But there were huge fires and I couldn’t see anything, People were so nice. It was a change of pace.
“This is the place to be.”
Larson settled in Montana in 2019.
A former gymnast and wrestler in high school, along with some ju-jitsu experience, Larson was bartending when friend and bareback rider Blade Elliott told him he had a bucking machine at home.
“I haven’t stopped since that day,” Larson said. “It’s the toughest sport in rodeo to me.”
Larson got roughed up in May at a rodeo in Cheney, Washington, suffering a fracture of his T-12 vertebrae.
“The horse smashed me back in the chute,” he said. “I had to drive back home with a broken back. And I hit a dust devil driving home. I saw it ahead of me and thought I could get around it. Then it was, ‘Hey, I’m in the middle of this thing.’ It almost threw my car off the highway.”
After getting cleared by the doctors, Larson returned to the gym and bucking chute around the Fourth of July.
“I just got back on the bucking machine and spur board,” he said. “I’m staying in the gym as much as I can. It was getting on more horses, more practices. The horses don’t take a day off.”
Larson runs a small trucking business during the week. “I haul sheds and barns,” he said. “I work Monday through Thursday. I just give them my schedule.”
He also helps out at the family-run sandwich shop and bakery.
Along with Dearhamer, Larson traveled the state with Levi Hurst and Parker Mothershead. Mothershead, of Joliet, leads the saddle bronc and all-around cowboy standings. Hurst, of Kalispell, has qualified for the Finals in saddle bronc riding.
“We push each other all the time. We’re always pushing each other,” said Larson. “You’re always learning.
“I just like the camaraderie of the NRA … being with friends.”