Meet the Member AJae Griffin
story by Michele Toberer Anna Jae Griffin goes by AJae, and the Mississippi native has been a cowgirl for a lifetime, and a Southeastern Professional […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Josh “Porkchop” Garrick’s earliest rodeo memory coincides with the day he picked out his career. At the age of three, the Malvern, Ark., native was ushered to his local rodeo’s bull pen by bullfighter Stacy Janes, where Josh barely had to look twice before deciding he belonged in front of the chutes, be it a bullfighter or a barrel man.
Since then, he’s transitioned from fighting bulls to working as a rodeo entertainer and barrel man, lending laughter to events in the SPRA, IPRA, PBR, CBR, Bull Riders of America, and recently, the 2015 SPFR in Philadelphia, Miss. “I always feel comfortable no matter what the SPRA rodeo, but the finals are great because everyone is there at the same time,” says Josh. “They have a great facility and group of people, and a great town! My drive is making people laugh, and I love to see people have fun. We live in a world where there’s a lot going on, and we’re in a really charged environment politically right now, so if I can make people forget what’s on their mind and give them two hours of freedom from that, I think that’s the coolest thing in the world.”
No stranger to the rodeo lifestyle, Josh grew up watching extended family compete, but his own athleticism took him to another arena of competition in his teens. Standing 4’6”, Josh competed in the track and field events of shot-put, discus, and javelin in the Dwarf Athletic Association of America, a division of the Paralympics. “I started when I was 13 and competed nationally, then moved up to the international level a few years later,” he explains. “I spent 18 days in England when I was 16. I also spent several summers in San Diego, California, at the Olympic training center. It was a really cool experience, and it got me ready for travelling for rodeo.”
At 17, Josh started fighting bulls at practice pens and in just a few years, he was working IPRA rodeos and cowboy protection schools. “I had a very successful bullfighting career, but because I’m small, I wasn’t as fast, so I got beat up,” says Josh. “I don’t see myself as disabled – I see it as a blessing, and I use it to my advantage. But I had to make a businessman’s decision and switch to the barrel end of things. I ended up in that role when the barrel man for a show where I was fighting bulls didn’t show up. They handed me a microphone, and it was so much fun! It came naturally to me, plus I’d already established a base in rodeo with the people I fought bulls for. The clown I look up to more than anyone else is Rudy Burns. He worked a lot of local rodeos in my area when I was growing up, and he’s someone who rodeoed his whole life and has a respectable career and a good name. That’s important to me as well.”
The Biggest Little Man in Pro Rodeo, Josh is a full time barrel man, with only two weekends off between January and November. His wife of five years, Jessica, and their five-year-old son they are adopting, Michael, travel often with him. “Michael thinks rodeo is the coolest thing in the world and he just made his mutton bustin’ debut a few weeks ago,” says Josh. The husband and wife are independent contractors for Josh’s sponsor, Spur Life Clothing, which Jessica sells while they travel. She also works for the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and helps Michael and Josh care for their menagerie of animals at home, including goats, cows, horses, chickens, pigs, pheasants, quail, and pigeons. They also enjoy fishing and duck hunting.
“I’d love to go back and work the SPRA Finals and keep working international events,” Josh finishes, “but my ultimate goal is to be better than the day before. I want to have the best performance ever each time I step into the arena.”
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