Shorty Garrett Chases the NFR Dream

Ruth Wiechmann
for Tri-State Livestock News
Photo by Alaina Stangle

With his roots deep in the Holloway and Garrett families, there was never a time when Shorty Garrett didn’t want to rodeo.

Shorty and his sisters Jesika, Juan’L and Shamra grew up horseback, helping handle cattle on their grandpa Johnny Holloway’s ranch.

Shorty’s dad, Juan Garrett, was a bullrider, and Juan’s brothers Marvin and Mark both made names for themselves on bareback horses. His mom is Johnilyn (Holloway) Garrett. Her brother T.C. Holloway became a legend in the saddle bronc world before his untimely death at the age of twenty-four. Her brother Chuck Holloway was an NFR pickup man. Shorty’s brother J.D. Garrett went to the finals riding bareback horses, and brother in law Chason Floyd made the NFR bulldogging.

“I grew up around rodeo my whole life,” Garrett said. “Our whole family revolved around rodeo. My grandpa put on amateur rodeos for years, and between my uncles and my dad every weekend we were at a rodeo either helping to put it on or watching someone compete. It would have been pretty hard to play baseball or basketball.”

“For Shorty it was never a matter of ‘if’ it was just a question of ‘when’ he would ride broncs,” Shorty’s sister Jesika (Garrett) Floyd shared. “He had to wait till he weighed a hundred pounds; that was the Holloway family rule.”

“I finally weighed enough my junior year in high school,” Shorty laughed. “When I graduated I weighed 103 pounds.”

While he waited to get big enough to get on a bronc, Shorty rode bulls and wrestled in high school, although he was still well below the lowest weight class of 106 pounds. He attended Cheyenne-Eagle Butte for his freshman and sophomore years and then transferred to Dupree for his junior and senior years because they had a better rodeo program.

The horses were calling.

“I always wanted to ride broncs,” he recalled. “I liked bull riding, but when bronc riding started to click; when I could really move with the horse; I got to where I was just craving that feeling.”

Shorty hasn’t looked back. He attended Casper College on a rodeo scholarship.

“There was some wolfy bronc riding in that region,” he said. “It made you want to buck up and do it.”

Since college Shorty has hit the professional rodeo trail hard.

“The ultimate goal is to make the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas,” Jesika said. “It takes more mental strength that anything. Talent is not the question. It just takes a lot of strength and belief in your goals when you know you have over a hundred guys that will be narrowed down to fifteen per year.”

“It’s my dream to be a World Champion,” Shorty said. “I’ve always thought that if a guy bought a ranch it would be cool to be able to say you paid for it with rodeo earnings. They pay better now than they used to, and you can actually make a living at it.”

Traveling partners Isaac Diaz and Brody Cress played a big role in Garrett’s success this year.

“Hanging out with Isaac has really helped me a lot,” he said. “He challenges me to be the person I want to be. That means a lot.”

Shorty crossed one goal off his list this year by winning the Badlands Circuit Finals held earlier this month in Minot, North Dakota.

“I had a pretty successful year,” he said. “I had a lot of fun and I stayed healthy. That’s pretty important and this is the first year I did that.”

But win, lose, or draw, it still hangs on the horses.

“Getting good horses and good draws is huge,” Shorty said.

Some of his favorites include the mares 918 Prom Night, owned by the Sutton Rodeo Company, and Maria Bartiromo owned by Burch Rodeo.

Tiger Warrior, an eliminator owned by the Calgary Stampede, ditched Shorty at a rodeo in Puyallup, Washington, but it won’t be the last time Shorty rides him.

“As soon as I came off him I wanted to get him right back,” he said, “That’ll be a goal, till I ride him.”

Another horse that stands out on Shorty’s list is the mare Resistol’s Top Hat, owned by Stace Smith Rodeo Companies.

“I finally got her at the Dodge City Finals,” he said. “It felt just like I thought it would.”

When not on the rodeo trail Shorty keeps busy with his herd of Red Angus cows, helping his dad with the Garretts’ construction business, wearing out and spoiling his nephew, Jeskica and Chason Floyd’s son Nevada, and lending a helping hand wherever he’s needed.

“He’s the guy with the big heart who can do anything,” Jesika said, “Construction, mechanic work, you name it. He’s willing to help anybody out. He helps neighbors, helps Dad with the construction business, and loves to play uncle to my son.”

And horses.

“I have a lot of young horses I’m training for roping. My girlfriend, Alex Bush, thinks I have too many,” Shorty laughed.

It may not give quite the adrenaline rush that bronc riding brings, but the satisfaction of working with the horses and finding a useful partner along the way is rewarding.