Culp Bucking Bulls
● By Christy Milan
That's a Lot of Bull
By Christy Milan
Photo by Whitney Ponti | Go Left Photography
Rodeo is rooted in American history, tracing back to the late 1800s when the Spanish settled California and became cattle ranchers. Wild West shows began traveling through the Eastern states in these days, and today’s rodeo is the offspring of these shows. Early rodeos varied in events and were free to the public; today, prizes are awarded, admission is charged, rules have been established and cowboys are invited.
The first steer competition was held in 1889, and evolved into what has become the popular Pro Bull Riding series. Bull and rider points are split 50/50 – in every ride, the bull is judged on spirit, elegance and tenacity, just like the rider is judged for his skills.
The bulls are usually Brahma crossed with another breed and can weigh 1,500 pounds or more. They have a tendency to plunge, leap and spin when being ridden.
Trained from a young age, bulls are fed premium feed, gradually exposed to lights and noise, and trailered frequently. This prepares them to be the best athletes they can be. Each bull displays its own personality and talents.
Andrew Culp of Culp Bucking Bulls was riding bulls in high school rodeo when his grandfather introduced him to longtime rodeo stock contractor John Growney in 2013. Growney offered him a job on the road after he graduated later that year. Culp graduated from Modoc High School and continued to participate in 30 rodeos. “John Growney, my dad Lynn Culp and my grandfather, Richard Culp, who has passed now—these guys have been with me 100 percent of the way,” Culp says. “John is a world-famous stock contractor who has the passion to pass rodeo down to generations coming up. I was lucky; I was one of them.”
Culp bought his first bucking bull in 2015 in Las Vegas. “Painted Pudge was his name,” he recalls. “He ended up making the Pro Bull Riding World Finals in 2018. Out of 116 bulls in the U.S., he was the one Cody Lambert liked from Northern California.”
Raising athletic bulls is complex. “It all starts from the ground up, so the bulls get top feed and premium care,” Culp explains. “It’s like owning your favorite muscle car – they need the same care. These animals are athletes and they absolutely love their job.”
Earlier this year Culp Bucking Bulls, 204 Money and 220 Hummers Gold, attended the Iron Cowboy in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. This event features the top 40 bull riders and the world’s top-ranked bulls. Prize money is over $100,000 and riders can earn double points toward the world championship. The pressure on stockbreeders and riders is at its peak. Culp relies on a Bible verse, Joshua 1.9: Be strong and courageous. “Being around the life of rodeo, that’s what you need is strength and courage to be doing what we’re doing in all aspects of rodeo,” he says.
Rodeo season is in full swing and the excitement is thick in the air. “We are gearing up to be really busy from now until September, with rodeos from Oregon to Nevada to California,” Culp says. “We have been traveling to close Pro Bull Riding events in our region and the animals have done great at everyone we have attended. We couldn’t ask for much more.”
Other bulls of Culp Bucking Bulls include Taz, Captain Crunch and the poster child, Painted Pudge. Like their names, each bull has its own personality. Each has the potential to become legends just like the riders. “When it’s rodeo week in whatever town you live in, everybody wants to be a cowboy for three days. We need more of that in this world.”
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