© Growney Brothers & Bridwell Pro Rodeo

History

Our historial past has filled us with rich tradition which  makes our future brighter than ever. 

 Exploring one’s past, most always reveals the very things we thought were impossible happen to have been right in front of us our whole life. Perhaps, we just need the journey to take us down the road a bit first. Destiny creates clarity in hindsight and John Growney’s rodeo legacy is no exception!  Growing up in the city limits of Red Bluff, California, John’s story starts, as many young children, with a starry-eyed infatuation of the American Cowboy. Once a year he and his lifelong friend, Larry Brownfield, would help with the chores around the Red Bluff Round-Up Rodeo. His love fostered during Round-Up for the western lifestyle was further embedded deeply as John’s dad, George Growney, then began taking young John along on weekend getaways to many local festivals and rodeos in Northern California. “In those days, every town had a rodeo. People went for the weekend to socialize and get away from the everyday reality of their real jobs,” recalled John. “Even though we lived in town, my dad had spent much of his youth working on family ranches outside of town where he learned to rope and ride really well. Ranch life indeed led my Dad to rodeo life in those early years.”        It was around the age of 5 when John was introduced to a rodeo clown by the name of Holmer Holcomb. John was mesmerized by the rodeo “celebrity”. The introduction produced a moment that forever cemented the already un-canning love for the sport of rodeo as Holmer offered John a felt cowboy hat and asked him to specifically look after the special hat. The chance encounter ignited the flickering fire in John’s heart and it burned brightly clear through his adolescent years. However, it wasn’t until his freshman of year of high school that he was able to attend a junior rodeo in Susanville, California. Finally, he entered the competition he had so long dreamed about. After talking his way into the rodeo with help from rodeo secretary Betty Cooley, he won the wild cow riding. Instantly, the undersized, slight made high schooler made a name for himself which would set the stage for his collegiate bull riding career.  Upon completion of high school John choose to attend nearby Chico State. Though his rodeo competition took a back seat to “socializing”, he still managed to continue with his skills as a pastime at rodeo events until he was forced to take a leave to serve in the Army for two years. It was upon his return to Chico State after his Army days that he met John McDonald. McDonald was a bull rider who had just returned from the College National Finals where he and his college peers had achieved great successes. John was immediately taken with by McDonald’s intestinal fortitude and drive to be a champion. Per John, “Meeting John McDonald changed who I was. He was a winner and he taught me how to be a winner too by applying the talent I had been given.” Despite being 5 years McDonald’s elder, the two began traveling to rodeos together. However, during the rodeo in Folsom, California the two young men’s’ friendship took a dramatic turn. McDonald was competing in the bull riding when he unexpectedly got yanked under the bull and stepped on. John got him home but quickly realized hospitalization was McDonald’s only option. As John helped nurse McDonald back to health, the pair began buying practice bulls to ride. John’s Dad had purchased a ranch around the year 1974 (it has since remained the headquarters of Growney Brothers Rodeo). As with many aspiring young riders, John was also trying to complete his college education and continue to compete in rodeos. His educational endeavors had taken him to Cal-Poly University where an idea for his Senior Project came to light. The project was, “How to Get into the Rodeo Business,” and it may just have been the final stepping stone to what would become John’s life legacy. However, once again, his education and his aspiring career would trade places on life’s priority list. In 1976, he and McDonald set out on the rodeo trail to “make it big.” John won the Cow Palace and felt destined to make it to his first National Finals Rodeo (NFR). McDonald was also winning that year and was consistently listed atop the nation’s 15 best bull riders. Yet again, fate stepped in and neither of the two ended up making the NFR. McDonald ended up 16th in the World Standings. One position short of the 15-man field allowed to ride at the lucrative NFR. John got hurt and was unable to finish the rodeo season. Thus, he retreated to familiar territory in the confines of Cal-Poly. But, it wasn’t the same without McDonald and other friends who had graduated. So, John walked on school and headed straight to the bank. There he put his “school project” into realistic motion. He applied for a loan to purchase a rodeo company. The only problem was he did not actually have one in his sights to buy.      Thankfully John’s reputation had proceeded him. Denny Ellerman knew John wanted in the business and it just happened that Denny had ties to assist John in booking his first rodeo. So, John contacted Cotton Rosser. Rosser forged a connection between John and Don Flannigan.  John bought his first set of bucking horses from Flannigan in 1977. In the beginning, John acquired mostly high school rodeos. It was not long though when he began to climb into the amateur level by securing contracts of aging rodeo producer Dick Hemsted. John’s professional rodeo debut came with the acquisition of Bob Cook’s rodeo company Rodeo Stock Contractors. In the early 80’s Growney Brother’s Rodeo became exclusive to Professional Rodeo! The legacy, born of an American boy’s dream, is continuing to be lived out by the generations of family, friends and rodeo fans who delight in the continued hard work and dedication of the Growney Brother’s Rodeo Company. If the past is any indication of the future, then the ride is only just begun! For what lies in front of us may only be just a glimpse of what is behind us
A Path Rich in Tradition Paves the Way…
© Growney Brothers & Bridwell Pro Rodeo
A Path Rich in Tradition Paves the Way…

History

Our historial past has filled us with

rich tradition which  makes our

future brighter than ever. 

 Exploring one’s past, most always reveals the very things we thought were impossible happen to have been right in front of us our whole life. Perhaps, we just need the journey to take us down the road a bit first. Destiny creates clarity in hindsight and John Growney’s rodeo legacy is no exception!  Growing up in the city limits of Red Bluff, California, John’s story starts, as many young children, with a starry- eyed infatuation of the American Cowboy. Once a year he and his lifelong friend, Larry Brownfield, would help with the chores around the Red Bluff Round-Up Rodeo. His love fostered during Round- Up for the western lifestyle was further embedded deeply as John’s dad, George Growney, then began taking young John along on weekend getaways to many local festivals and rodeos in Northern California. “In those days, every town had a rodeo. People went for the weekend to socialize and get away from the everyday reality of their real jobs,” recalled John. “Even though we lived in town, my dad had spent much of his youth working on family ranches outside of town where he learned to rope and ride really well. Ranch life indeed led my Dad to rodeo life in those early years.”        It was around the age of 5 when John was introduced to a rodeo clown by the name of Holmer Holcomb. John was mesmerized by the rodeo “celebrity”. The introduction produced a moment that forever cemented the already un- canning love for the sport of rodeo as Holmer offered John a felt cowboy hat and asked him to specifically look after the special hat. The chance encounter ignited the flickering fire in John’s heart and it burned brightly clear through his adolescent years. However, it wasn’t until his freshman of year of high school that he was able to attend a junior rodeo in Susanville, California. Finally, he entered the competition he had so long dreamed about. After talking his way into the rodeo with help from rodeo secretary Betty Cooley, he won the wild cow riding. Instantly, the undersized, slight made high schooler made a name for himself which would set the stage for his collegiate bull riding career.  Upon completion of high school John choose to attend nearby Chico State. Though his rodeo competition took a back seat to “socializing”, he still managed to continue with his skills as a pastime at rodeo events until he was forced to take a leave to serve in the Army for two years. It was upon his return to Chico State after his Army days that he met John McDonald. McDonald was a bull rider who had just returned from the College National Finals where he and his college peers had achieved great successes. John was immediately taken with by McDonald’s intestinal fortitude and drive to be a champion. Per John, “Meeting John McDonald changed who I was. He was a winner and he taught me how to be a winner too by applying the talent I had been given.” Despite being 5 years McDonald’s elder, the two began traveling to rodeos together. However, during the rodeo in Folsom, California the two young men’s’ friendship took a dramatic turn. McDonald was competing in the bull riding when he unexpectedly got yanked under the bull and stepped on. John got him home but quickly realized hospitalization was McDonald’s only option. As John helped nurse McDonald back to health, the pair began buying practice bulls to ride. John’s Dad had purchased a ranch around the year 1974 (it has since remained the headquarters of Growney Brothers Rodeo). As with many aspiring young riders, John was also trying to complete his college education and continue to compete in rodeos. His educational endeavors had taken him to Cal-Poly University where an idea for his Senior Project came to light. The project was, “How to Get into the Rodeo Business,” and it may just have been the final stepping stone to what would become John’s life legacy. However, once again, his education and his aspiring career would trade places on life’s priority list. In 1976, he and McDonald set out on the rodeo trail to “make it big.” John won the Cow Palace and felt destined to make it to his first National Finals Rodeo (NFR). McDonald was also winning that year and was consistently listed atop the nation’s 15 best bull riders. Yet again, fate stepped in and neither of the two ended up making the NFR. McDonald ended up 16th in the World Standings. One position short of the 15-man field allowed to ride at the lucrative NFR. John got hurt and was unable to finish the rodeo season. Thus, he retreated to familiar territory in the confines of Cal-Poly. But, it wasn’t the same without McDonald and other friends who had graduated. So, John walked on school and headed straight to the bank. There he put his “school project” into realistic motion. He applied for a loan to purchase a rodeo company. The only problem was he did not actually have one in his sights to buy.      Thankfully John’s reputation had proceeded him. Denny Ellerman knew John wanted in the business and it just happened that Denny had ties to assist John in booking his first rodeo. So, John contacted Cotton Rosser. Rosser forged a connection between John and Don Flannigan.  John bought his first set of bucking horses from Flannigan in 1977. In the beginning, John acquired mostly high school rodeos. It was not long though when he began to climb into the amateur level by securing contracts of aging rodeo producer Dick Hemsted. John’s professional rodeo debut came with the acquisition of Bob Cook’s rodeo company Rodeo Stock Contractors. In the early 80’s Growney Brother’s Rodeo became exclusive to Professional Rodeo! The legacy, born of an American boy’s dream, is continuing to be lived out by the generations of family, friends and rodeo fans who delight in the continued hard work and dedication of the Growney Brother’s Rodeo Company. If the past is any indication of the future, then the ride is only just begun! For what lies in front of us may only be just a glimpse of what is behind us