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Cowboys, Cowgirls Descend on Las Vegas | News

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Cowboys, Cowgirls Descend on Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS --  The National Finals Rodeo is just one of the events this weekend attracting thousands of people to Las Vegas.

Along with the cowboys and cowgirls, the animals help make the annual sporting event a major attraction for visitors. There will be 119 contestants vying for more than $6 million in prize money but it's the four-legged athletes who are often the stars.

National Finals Rodeo Events

"The animals are the show. The contestants work hard all year but these animals, I hate to tell you, that's what people come to see. Once the pens open, it's game on," said John Barns, NFR livestock superintendent.

The animals arrived in Las Vegas three weeks ago to prepare for the rodeo. This 10 day event  plays host to the some of the toughest cowboys and cowgirls around and also features some of the greatest animals in the sport.

Barns lives and breathes everything related to livestock and the rodeo. The animals are under his watch for the next 10 days of competition.

The Top 8 Bull Riders

"We exercise them everyday and feed them everyday. It's just a wonderful thing to see these athletes go up against these humans. To have your animal compete in the NFR is just as important as being a human competitor," Barns said.

The contestants chose the animals they want to compete with. "It's like Dancing with the Stars. You get to pick who you get to be dancing with," Barns said.

Carr Pro Rodeo out of Dallas, Texas has 12 animal athletes competing.

"They work eight seconds a week and get grained, fed, shots and wormed and they are $40,000 or $50,000 horses. They eat, drink, and sleep better than we do," bareback rider Casey Colletti said.

The Top 8 Bulls at NFR

She is one of the top 15 bareback riders in the world. She has ridden on Carr Pro Rodeo horses and knows how important it is to have the right animals at a global event.

"We got to get on them all year long and to be able to come to the biggest rodeo in the world and get on the same horses that's great."

Twenty-two-year-old Brady Tryan is no stranger to the NFR. He knows a lot of his success as a competitor depends on working with the best animals.

"You got have a great horse. They have to do their part just as much as we do," he said.

The Thomas and Mack Arena is hosting the event.