When people use the phrase “led around by the nose” it is evident that they are implying that someone is being led by that old ring in the nose that can cow even the toughest of bulls. The phrase is not usually used in any complimentary fashion.
However, for Butch and Krista Groft, allowing themselves to be led by a bull brought a great change to them and their farm. Both Butch and Krista had agricultural backgrounds: Butch showed dairy cattle and ponies while Krista showed horses. Upon their marriage, it seemed only natural to take up keeping cattle on their home farm in Union Bridge, MD. This went on through the ups and downs of cattle prices until one day they looked at each other and decided they had enough of the work, the uncertainty of the prices and the necessity of working around Butch’s full time job as a lineman. In short, they sold out.
Well, almost. What they kept was one bull. They decided they would take that one bull, Tank, a Limousin/Angus cross, over to a friend’s place and see if that bull would buck. They went to the farm of Chip Ridgely who lives nearby and they gave Tank a chance to prove himself against the cowboys who frequent Ridgely’s bucking chutes and bull riding events.
Tank did buck. In fact, once he got the hang of the whole thing, he bucked out of the chutes 25 times and was only ridden twice for the whole eight seconds. Tank proved himself handsomely and Butch said, “We got the bug.”
What that meant was that they went out and bought Tank some cows from a lady in nearby Taylorsville, MD who had Brahma and Brahma-cross cows. When the heifers from that cross reached maturity they were bred to the good #38 Vegas bull that belonged to another neighboring bucking bull man, Johnny Williams who also lives in Union Bridge, MD and who runs regular Saturday night bull buckings on his J Bar W Ranch. Vegas is the grandson of legendary PBR bucking bull Blueberry Wine which over the seven years of his career had 93 outs and only gave up nine rides. The daughters of the Vegas/Tank/Brahma cross were bred back to Tank, doubling up on Tank’s innate talents with the valuable outcross to Vegas and the proven Brahma bucking bloodlines in there, too. Obviously, this was no overnight sensation; Butch and Krista were in it for the long haul and they were laying a solid foundation for their dreams and the stock they needed to achieve them.
Along the way, they came into contact with another part of the bucking bull nation…mini bulls. The mini bull is just like the big bulls except that it is about half-size and just a little tamer and it is built to please the demands of the mini bull riders out there. The PBR recognizes the Miniature Bull Riders and is an official sponsor of this desire of its youngest cowboys, ages from eight and nine years old for the Pee Wee Division through 10 and 11 years in the Junior Division and up to 12 to 14 years old for the Senior Division.
The mini bulls were the bright idea of Lillie and Cirildo Leal of Lockney, Texas. In 2010, they started a mini bull stock contracting business supplying the little bulls to local rodeos. The Leal’s vision of a Miniature Bull Riders circuit caught the attention of Chris Shivers, a 2-time PBR World Champion, who came on board and became a partner in the Leal’s vision. MBR promotes the sport of youth bull riding and also promotes the values that are important to those who participate in the PBR, self-confidence, respect and sportsmanship.
The Grofts also ‘got the bug’ for mini bulls and now keep mini bulls and sponsor mini bull riding with their year-end championship rides being held at the mid-winter indoor bull riding spectaculars that Johnny Williams holds in Westminster, MD.
Not only do the Grofts now hold their own bull bucking’s at their farm in Union Bridge, MD with their own Buck Wild Rodeo Bulls but now they have contracts to supply bulls to two very different groups besides the mini bull crew of riders.
They have the contract to supply Maryland’s new and very keen group of High School Rodeo riders. They are also sending bulls to the NFRJR, National Finals Rodeo JR riders, which is a group of very tough riders who need commensurately tough bulls.
In addition to that they have at least one bull with Mark Reed’s Triple R Bull Company that supplies bulls to the PBR, which is as tough as it gets. When a bull is leased to a supplier that bull must carry the brand of the supplier’s company to be registered with the PBR so it is not unusual to see a bull bucking in the PBR with two or even three different brands. What that requirement does is give the men who understand bulls, rodeos and bull riding the complete history of that animal on sight.
This is “brand recognition” at a level that the advertising agencies which inhabit the high-rise buildings in the big cities very probably don’t even know exists but it is this precise piece of solid American history that gave rise to much of their jargon.
Butch and Krista Groft understand what a brand means and they also know the hard road that leads to making a name in the only industry that demands everything that a member of that industry can give, including sometimes blood as well as sweat and tears.