Like many rodeo athletes, Clayton Biglow’s journey to becoming a top competitor in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association started with him following in his father’s footsteps.
His dad competed in bareback riding and if it wasn’t for a chance meeting at the Clements (California) Rodeo between that cowboy and a young woman that trained and competed on jumping horses, the story would never have started.
Russ Biglow, Clayton’s dad and his mom, Jessie, settled down on a ranch just a few miles away from the rodeo grounds where they met and started a family. Clayton is the middle child between two sisters. Of the three of them, he has been the most passionate and active in the rodeo arena.
His love of the sport started when he was still in single digits. He started riding calves in the Northern California Junior Rodeo Association as a six-year-old. He was also horseback with his parents learning about horsemanship, and increasing his passion to be a cowboy with every ride.
He helped his mom all the while, she had at least 15 horses to ride every day and he would get her colts started for her. He spent hours riding bareback, in an English saddle and in a western saddle. His horsemanship and love of being a cowboy started to pay off when he was in the eighth grade. He started fitting ranch day work into his schedule.
Never one to shy away from hard work, Clayton seemed to thrive on it. The harder he worked, the more he set out to achieve. His lifestyle wasn’t in line with other students in high school, so after lengthy discussions and much persuasion on Clayton’s part, his parents relented and he started a home school program through a charter school. His plan was to make money and stay busy.
So the schedule began. He would work all day being a cowboy, come home and practice his roping until dark, then eat and do homework, go to bed and start the cycle all over again the next day. Weekends were spent at high school or amateur rodeos or, they would go to their friend’s place and buck out horses. That friend just happened to be John Holman, who is originally from Kaycee, Wyo., and is a three-time qualifier (1970-72) for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in the saddle bronc riding.
Clayton had been riding junior bulls. As he got older, the bulls grew, but Clayton didn’t so his dad didn’t want him to get on those bigger bulls and take a chance on a serious injury. He had always wanted to get on a bareback horse because that’s what his father had done and he’d been behind the chutes enough to know that was what he wanted to do.
His dad started making the trip to Brentwood with him to the Holman Ranch and as Clayton said, “he started coming around.” The first time that Russ asked his son if he wanted to get on a bareback horse, Clayton was shocked.
“I got on that horse and never looked back,” he said. “I was hooked after that one ride. I never wanted to get on a bull again. I started craving getting on bareback horses and knew that is what I wanted to do.”
That was the end of his sophomore year of high school. There was one rodeo left before the California state finals. He placed there, went on to state and qualified for the National High School Rodeo Association Finals. He also competed in the cutting and finished as the reserve champion all-around cowboy.
Clayton went on to compete among high school rodeo’s best two more times. When it was time to think about furthering his education in and out of the arena, the decision about where to go was easy he said.
“Feather River offered great scholarships, had a good ag program and a great rodeo program,” he said. “I’ve known (coach) Jesse Segura for a long time and it was always a school I could see myself going to.”
His freshman year of college saw him qualifying for the 2015 College National Finals Rodeo. That was the same year he joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). He made the trip to Las Vegas last December to compete in the PRCA Permit Holder of the Year Challenge held in conjunction with the NFR where he earned the championship.
He started off the 2016 season with big goals, to win the Resistol Rookie of the Year title, qualify for the NFR and leave with a gold buckle. Those are big goals. He juggled college homework with his rodeo schedule all spring, qualified for his second CNFR and left as the reserve champion behind his traveling partner and schoolmate Wyatt Denny from Minden, Nev. He also competed in the team roping and finished as the reserve champion all-around cowboy. They helped carry the Feather River College men’s team to the championship.
He and Wyatt left the CNFR and headed to the Reno Rodeo. They both qualified for Reno’s championship finals. Clayton entered in first place and finished the same way earning a whopping $10,277 along with his first pair of trophy spurs from the “Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West.”
Prior to his Reno win, he was 11th in the world standings. He moved up to eighth, but then a slow Fourth-of-July saw him back down to 11th.
“I don’t pay too much attention to the standings, but everyone else does and they sure let me know where I’m at,” he said. “With all of the money available at the NFR, where you come in isn’t nearly as important as where you leave. A guy can make big moves there in a hurry.”
Clayton and Wyatt will be burning up the highways getting to rodeos all summer and fall and their plan is to win first and second wherever they go. We will be following them on their journey throughout the rest of the season.