Rookie Owner Finds Southern Comfort with Championship Pro Rodeo

Much to do is made about the rookies rolling the top ten standings this year of the Championship Bull Riding World Finals roster. But on the other side of the chutes the rookies have been keeping up within the CBR Bull Team Challenge competition as well. Rookie owner Kevin Ruggs heads to Cheyenne this week for his first CBR World Finals in his inaugural year of team owner/partnership. Ruggs, an Oklahoma businessman found comfort in his southern roots and joined the competition via Championship Pro Rodeo and Company.

Kevin Ruggs invested in the CBR because he was comfortable with his long-time friend, Zach Craig, at the helm. For a rookie bull team owner, Kevin obviously has good instincts because Craig and Barrett led their friend’s partnership team to a first place finish in Bossier City and second in Lufkin. Beginners luck? I don’t think so.

“I got involved because I knew I could trust Zach. It is really an interesting business, I did not grow up around rodeo, bull riding or anything like that and it’s intriguing, fun and an adrenaline rush all at the same time. Unpredictable, you never know who is going to ride one or just even survive sometimes,” said the 39 year old from Mulhall, Oklahoma.   

18 months ago I sat down with Zach Craig and Brett Barrett for the first time. At that time their newest acquisition, Ragin JT was the primary superstar, but fast forward to this year’s tour and the biggest difference between their bull team and other owners is still the approach. Championship Pro Rodeo is a team headed to Cheyenne with the same foundation as the company they founded three years ago, and their success stands alone.

Zach Craig and Brett Barrett, disguised as Championship Pro Rodeo, used nine different bulls to qualify, haul, train, and flank four teams in hopes of qualifying for the 2015 CBR Bull Team World Finals. The Mahindra Road to Cheyenne tour is a year-long activity for the bull men that are both Oklahoma natives. 

Barrett, who claims his last day off was the day he met Zach (three years ago), has put over 100,000 miles on two different trucks and can’t wait to load up again and make the most important trip of the season to the “daddy of ‘em all”. “There is a reason it is called that, it is by far the best rodeo in the world.”

“It is a feeling like no other, I can’t wait to see my buddies, pull in the grounds with the bulls, that’s the part I look forward to,” said Barrett from a rodeo somewhere in America. 

“The CBR is where the money is right now in the bull industry, I still am involved with the younger bulls and the competitive side of the business, but CBR has created a commodity like no other,” continued Barrett.  

Finishing second in the 2014 CBR World Finals Bull Team Challenge competition has fueled their dedication and desire to take more and better bulls to this year’s finals. With one High Marked Bull (Gold Buckle in Mercedes) prize and four High Marked Ride awards the CPR team finished first four times, 2nd twice, and 3rd and 4th only once. Their earnings are in excess of $129,000 dollars and their bulls lead most of the stat sheets.

Bulls don’t read resumes says the great Don Gay, but history will repeat itself and there are very valuable lessons to be learned from history, even a bucking bull’s!  Craig is the student of the statistics and constantly combs the results and records to make sure he selects the best bulls for the equation.  

A glance at those stats reveal CPR had twenty 90 point plus rides this season, more than any other contractor bringing bulls to the CBR. They posted 29 qualified rides, again, the most by any CBR contractor. 

In an interview during the 2014 season, Barrett and Craig were joking and called themselves “the young and reckless.” The 2015 version of this dynamic duo is anything but reckless, still young, but skilled.

So what is there formula?

“Mining for gold disguised as a bucking bull,” said Barrett as he sat atop the chutes waiting to flank a bull at the National High School Rodeo Finals. Having a pen of bulls that you can draw from for your bull team is a key ingredient to their success on the 2014-15 Mahindra Road to Cheyenne tour relayed Barrett. “Just like any other business you have to handle things as they come up.”

You will have a bull get sick, just like JT the week of Mulvane, we had to be able to shuffle and replace him at the last minute,” we did and we went on to win the bull team competition that weekend. 

Barrett and Craig Bucking Bulls is a bucking bull operation owned and operated by Brett Barrett, Zach Craig, and specializing in the breeding, training, and competing of professional bucking bulls. Craig is known throughout the industry for raising great bulls such as Black Betty and Crazy Mother Trucker.  

Today the once two person partnership has expanded to include Championship Pro Rodeo, a rodeo company producing and supplying rough stock to rodeos in Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Missouri as well as competing in all associations of the bucking bull industry.

Loyalty and trust, and learning to work together is what gets this team, known as CPR, noticed and has kept them at the top of the CBR Bull team standings for most of the season on the road to Cheyenne.  

Each person has ideas.  Brett Barrett estimates he talks to Zach morning, noon and night, and it is not uncharacteristic for videos on bull prospects to be sent via text at 5 am, North Dakota time. 

Acknowledging that good partnerships take time this company of bull businessmen talk every day, many times more than once. What do they talk about…bulls we are both always looking for bulls… and knowing where the top riders are headed for the weekend is their personal strategy.