Story by Siri Stevens Reno Scribner is the 2022 Tie Down NJHFR Champion. The 14-year-old is from Edgewood, New Mexico, a small town between Albuquerque […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Cleve Griffin
story by Kyle Eustice
Born in Cody, Wyoming, 14-year-old Cleve Griffin and his family moved to Tularosa, New Mexico, when he was a toddler, and eventually relocated to Winston, New Mexico, just 30 miles west of Truth or Consequences.
“My dad’s family has always lived in New Mexico,” explained Cleve. “Before we moved, my dad was a stone mason and worked in Riodoso.”
As he begins his freshman year this fall at Hot Springs High School, he plans on waking up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to make it on time, something he doesn’t exactly enjoy, but he looks forward to being busy. He applies that same productive attitude towards his rodeo career.
His parents, Kylie and Trey, older sister Molly, 17, and younger brother Sam, 12, practice together. They are the embodiment of a true rodeo family.
“It’s a lot of fun to have someone to practice with,” said Cleve. “We have an arena on our property.”
Molly barrel races, breakaway ropes, and goat ties while Sam is just beginning to hone his horseback riding skills. Cleve on the other hand does team roping and saddle bronc riding.
“My love for rodeo started when I was little,” said Cleve. “I’ve always been really interested in it. It started when I was little, probably because my dad has always done it. He rode bulls and saddle broncs.”
The Griffins live on a cattle ranch, where Cleve helps feed the horses and cows, build fences, and do general maintenance around the property, which he believes gives him a stronger work ethic. He joined the NMJRHS in 2014 when he was in 6th grade.
“The first year I joined, they let little horses do the rodeo,” recalled Cleve. “They are 500 to 900 lbs. horses. They’re not ponies—just smaller horses.”
Cleve’s proudest moment was making it to the National Junior High Finals in Lebanon, Tennessee and placing in the top four during the first round and winning the second round in saddle bronc.
“I think I like saddle bronc more than team roping,” admitted Cleve. “I think it’s a lot more fun.”
Cleve is looking forward to joining the NMHSRA this year and going to the high school rodeos, but his goals surpass the high school level.
“I want to go on to PRCA and saddle bronc all throughout my career,” said Cleve. “I’ve stayed pretty healthy so far, but I’ve been working out and getting ready to ride bigger broncs. I do push ups and pull ups, and just try to stay in shape.”
His years playing corner back on his junior high football team helped prepare him to give it his all. In addition to being fit, Cleve believes it also takes a humble person to be a successful rodeo contestant.
“You have to know a lot about rodeo,” explained Cleve. “But you can’t have an ego. You have to be nice to everybody you meet. It’s a blast hanging out with people that have common interests.”
Cleve travels quite a bit throughout the season. Currently, he’s not doing much traveling, but he thinks 18 or 19 hour drives are “worth it” to compete. When traveling to events in New Mexico, he loves stopping at the local Allsup’s gas stations to get a chimichanga or a green chile hamburger from Blake’s Lotta Burger, like any other New Mexican kid.
There’s a sense he really enjoys his new home state.
“I love the landscape here,” said Cleve. “It’s really nice out here.”
Aside from riding his horse Chopper, a red roan, and going to rodeos, he loves going to Las Cruces or Alamagordo to go to movies with his friends or ride 4-Wheelers. When it’s rodeo season, however, his main focus is practicing and competing.
“A lot of kids get nervous before they get on their horse,” said Cleve. “It doesn’t bother me though. I go around and talk to my friends. It’s a lot of fun.”