Bart Brunson and Clay Green have talked about winning the Southeastern Circuit together for nearly two years, and they finally got the job done Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, after also winning the Southeastern Circuit Finals in Davie, Florida, with an 18.0 on three head.
Equally impressive, Louisiana’s Green came from ninth in the heeling standings to clinch his first year-end title.
“It’s actually really, really cool, I think, to come in ninth and the money being so close that we actually had a chance to win it,” Green, 24, said. “And I just love roping with Bart. It’s always fun to come home and rope with him., He doesn’t like to leave home very much, but it’s always fun when we get to rope.”
Mississippi header Brunson has won the year-end in the all-around and calf roping a few times, but never in the heading.
“I’ve had a chance a couple times and couldn’t get things to go my way there at the end, and it’s just great to be able to finally get it done,” Brunson said.
2023 on the Southeastern Circuit front
Brunson and Green have been on-and-off partners since Green’s rookie year in 2021. Brunson prefers to stay on the circuit front, whereas Green hits the road pretty hard.
Brunson had multiple partners in 2023, including Green at the beginning of the year, Nick Kent, Justin Yost and Chase Graves.
Green spent a good portion of the spring and summer out West, focusing more on the world standings rather than the circuit. Before leaving for the summer, he had only been to 10 or so circuit rodeos, trying not to get his rodeo count too high. By the end of the year, he made the circuit finals in just 15 Southeastern Circuit rodeos.
“We kind of just went to the good circuit rodeos and waited to see if we needed to come home and get to some more if it was looking like we were going to make the finals or not,” Green explained. “So, we left it at 10, and we did good at Jackson, Montgomery, Homestead, Florida, and a couple of the better ones we went to. That kind of helped us out where we didn’t have to go to too many but had enough won to get us in.”
Southeastern Circuit Finals
Brunson tried not to focus on the circuit title too much in Davie.
“My main thing was just try to get off to a good start and catch our steers and see where it ends up,” Brunson said. “[The circuit title] wasn’t really my main focus going in. I always try to rope the steer for what he is down there, especially on the first one and then, after the first one, you kind of see where you’re at, and you start thinking about the average the third day for sure.”
They were excited about their first steer as it was a good brindle they remembered from running the steers through before the rodeo. Brunson roped the steer around the half head, but Green cleaned up on the heel end, and they were 4.7 seconds to win the round for $2,789 a man.
Their second-round steer was on the weaker end and actually fell down after Brunson headed him. Green’s patience paid off, however, and they were 7.0 in Round 2 to be out of the money but still leading the average heading into the third round.
In Round 3, they drew another good brindle they were hoping for, and they knew they needed to win something in the round to clinch the year-end.
“By the time we’d roped, a clean time is what we needed to just to win last hole in the round,” Green said. “We had all day to win the average, and we actually drew a good little steer and just caught.”
They were fourth in the round with a 6.3, pocketing $697 a man to win the average and secure the year-end.
When it came to horsepower, Brunson had a pretty full dance card. He started the year on a stud his uncle raised that he calls Lil Easy. When he got sore toward the middle of the year, Brunson called on 5-year-old Semi—who was his choice in Davie, too. He also rode a sorrel gelding called Bob that belongs to some customers and friends there in the middle of the year, as well.
“Horses were kind of like partners,” Brunson said with a laugh. “I kind of had to jump around all year this year.”
Green rode his main mount, 15-year-old Django. Green bought him when he was in college from friend and 2023 NFR qualifier Cole Curry, and the two have roped everywhere together, from the long scores of Salinas and Cheyenne, to quick one-headers like Cody.
“I’ve rode him everywhere,” Green said. “He’s been my No. 1 ever since I got him, and he’s been really good. He knows exactly what we have to do, and he doesn’t do more than what we need and no less.”