Brushton Minton has started his own New Year’s tradition — winning the California Circuit Finals Rodeo. Ever since the Golden State moved its season ending championship to Red Bluff on New Year’s weekend, Minton has been undefeated in the calf roping.
He completed the three-peat inside the tiny Pauline Davis Pavilion during the 2023 edition, held Dec. 29-31, by roping and tying three calves in 27.7 seconds. He also secured the California Year-End title with $22,545 in winnings, although it the awarded to peer Jordan Ketscher in error during the finals.
“It seems to treat me pretty good,” Minton, 25, joked.
Minton grew up in Witter Springs, a small community in the mountains west of Red Bluff that was once a resort destination for those seeking the health benefits of its namesake spring waters and is a fourth-generation roper.
“I feel comfortable in that building,” Minton said. “We used to have our high school rodeos there, so I’ve roped there a lot.”
While Minton rang in 2024 the same way that he rang in 2023, a whole lot changed for the all-around hand in between.
Bruston Minton’s NFR experience
Minton qualified for and competed in his first career Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, finishing the year ranked 15th after earning $134,476. He’s already ranked inside the top 15 for next season too, and that was before he doubled his 2024 earnings with an $8,636 windfall in Red Bluff.
“It was alright,” Minton noted, pointing out that while he also qualified to the Finals in the team roping and steer wrestling, he failed to draw a check in either. “I didn’t get anything done in the other events but I guess that’s OK, tie down is the main one right now anyway.”
After roping ten calves in Las Vegas in early December, Minton traveled home but found Mother Nature less than cooperative with a cowboy looking to stay tuned up.
“I hadn’t run a calf in two weeks because of all the rain so I just went in there and winged it,” he said.
Bringing “Gunny” back
On the positive side, Minton was back aboard Gunny, the seventeen-year-old gelding he bought from Westyn Hughes a year ago.
“I rode him most of the year to help me make the Finals,” he said. “But he got hurt in August and I just got him back right before the NFR and only rode him a round there.”
“He has a lot of run and stops hard,” Minton continued. “His scoring is kind of iffy, but we’ve got it figured out.”
With his ace in the hole back, Minton went into the rodeo ranked third in the standings and a simple game plan.
“The calves were great and everyone had a chance no matter what they drew,” he said. “I just tried to get a good start and do my thing.”
Minton went to work early, picking up a share of second in the opening round with a run of 10.1 seconds. He got faster as the weekend progressed, taking second outright in round two with a run of 9.2 seconds.
With a qualification the NFR Open on the line, Minton had just one tenth on Cody Stewart going into the final go round. When Stewart broke the barrier, the door was wide open for Minton, who left no doubt, laying down the fastest time of the rodeo, 8.4 seconds, to claim the round and average victories.
“I finally made a decent run on the third one,” he said. “I had some bobbles on the first two that cost me time but luckily I still got checks on them.”
Minton posted his fastest average time during his three year dominance but unfortunately, did not have a big family cheering section in the stands other than his brother.
“I think they were burned out from Vegas,” Minton joked. “Plus, my little sister has a high school rodeo there in Red Bluff this week so they were already going to have to go over there.”
Seventeen-year-old Rainy is pretty handy with a rope herself and planning to head to school in Texas, where her brother is working to relocate.
“I’m trying to buy a place out there . . . if you’re trying to rope calves and be the best, you’ve got to go back there and go rope with the best so you stay sharp,” Minton explained. “When she gets down there for school, we’ll be able to rope together.”
The move to Texas won’t mean he’s quitting the California Circuit.
“I’ll stay in California, I love the spring run out there, going to Red Bluff and Clovis.”
He’ll also keep after all around titles, maybe eventually roping with his little brother in the team roping and dedicating more time to the steer wrestling.
“It’s hard with the way they do slacks at a lot of those rodeos [to enter multiple-events],” he said. “But I want to enter more one of these days, once I get the tie down roping going, maybe pick up the steer wrestling.”
“I thought it was pretty cool when Rhen Richard made the Finals in the team roping and calf roping and I’d love to make it in two events.”
“I probably need to get in the gym and get bigger for the steer wrestling,” he joked.
Though he struggled in his other events during the circuit finals, Minton ran away with the year end title in the All Around, earning nearly $48,000 en route to his first circuit championship.
His outstanding circuit finals performance in the calf roping allowed him to pick up a second year end title, this time his first in his main event. He erased a nearly $5,000 deficit behind season leader, and fellow all around competitor, Jordan Ketscher to take the year end championship by just about $500.
During the season, he only won one California rodeo, Santa Ynez just before Reno, but placed high at Poway, Industry and Oakdale. He also picked up checks in San Bernardino, Hayward, Auburn, Clovis, Lakeside, Red Bluff, Brawley.
Minton won $22,545 to clinch the title. He will once again represent the Golden State at the NFR Open next summer, where he’s won go rounds in the past.
That opportunity could be key as Minton chases a second consecutive NFR berth, an endeavor that renews again in just weeks.
“I’ve been to four rodeos [for 2024] and the circuit finals is a good start to the year,” Minton said. “I’ll be home for another week and go to San Diego for the rodeo there and then head to Denver, Fort Worth and on from there.”