After thousands of fans had filed out of the Clovis Rodeo Grounds on Saturday, stock contractor Tim Bridwell of Growney Brothers got busy and carefully tended to his pen of horses.
He made sure the pen gates were shut tight, plenty of hay was on the ground and the horses were relaxed and well rested.
After three days of the Clovis Rodeo, horses need to be fully charged for a final day of bucking -- with some of the best (or toughest) horses saved for today's final rounds.
"These horses have been dealing with a few drunks walking through the pen late at night, the music from the concert," Bridwell said. "It can be kind of stressful for them. But most of these horses are used to the environment and the lifestyle. We just want to make sure that they're ready to go and can perform at their highest level for the finals."
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Roughly 110 bucking horses were brought for the Clovis Rodeo, of which 35 were provided by the Growney Brothers, based out of Red Bluff.
Some horses have been out twice already, but a select few will make their Clovis Rodeo debut today. Growney Brothers has been supplying the Clovis Rodeo for 29 years. Burch Rodeo and Flying Five, two other stock contracting companies, also are showcasing horses and bulls at the annual Clovis event.
"This is when we want the bigger, stronger, faster ones out there," Bridwell said of today's finals. "You have the better riders out there, so you want to the better stock out there.
"And it's like anything else. The first time around, you probably have more energy than if you did something the second time around. They'll be ready."
Bridwell has spent six years assembling a line of horses, continually breeding certain physical characteristics and specific demeanors, in addition to buying others that fit desired traits, to create the ideal bucking horse.
Bridwell said the company's horse stock isn't as advanced as the Growney Brothers' bulls division that's headed up by Don Kish. It usually takes six to seven years before a stock contractor knows what type of horse he's raised compared to a three- to four-year window for bulls.
But Bridwell is also confident his horses will perform.
"We're kind of like the New York Yankees of bucking horses," Bridwell said. "We might not always have the best horse or win it all, but we'll be consistently competitive and challenging to be the best. And some years, you will be the best."
Jacobs Crawley scored 84 points to top the leaderboard from Saturday's saddle bronc riding ahead of second-place Jace Garrett, who scored an 83.
Other Saturday leaders were: Wes Stevenson in bareback riding, Olin Hannum in steer wrestling, Colby Lovell and Cory Petska in team roping, Houston Hutto in calf roping, Marvel Murphy in barrel racing and Shane Proctor in bull riding.
Also, Courtney Thomas of Fresno was crowned 2011 Miss Clovis Rodeo.