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How Deb Greenough became a ProRodeo Hall of Fame cowboy

Posted at 6:24 PM, Aug 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-03 16:56:55-04

BILLINGS – It’s a big weekend for Red Lodge cowboy Deb Greenough, who will be inducted Saturday to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs.

And it’s easy to see why.

Greenough is a cowboy’s cowboy. Throughout most of his career the bareback rider spent early December in Las Vegas for 10 high-flying, high-paying nights at the National Finals Rodeo. It’s where world champions are born, and Greenough claimed his in 1993.

“I try as hard as I can,” Greenough told MTN Sports midway through his career. “I guess I learned the hard way early in my career that just because you made it (to the NFR) doesn’t mean you’re going to get anything out of it. And I think that’s what’s made me try that much harder.”

Learning the hard way.

Greenough was referencing his last ride of the National Finals in both 1996 and ’97. Judges ruled that he failed to mark out on both rides, likely costing him a pair of gold buckles. Even under those gut-wrenching circumstances, Greenough made his way down the tunnel afterward to chat with Montana media who had traveled to cover his story. Greenough was consistently classy and accountable. And even late in his career, still finds ways to poke fun himself.

“I don’t look at them as a disappointment, I look at them as a lesson learned,” Greenough recalled.

“I’m just going to do my best to not let that happen against this year (in 1999). I guess I’m just going to have to bear down and blow out there so far in the lead, if I choke in the last round it won’t matter,” he said with a hearty laugh.

Between 1988 and 2000, Greenough qualified 13 consecutive years for the Super Bowl of Rodeo, often in contention for a gold buckle. Always a fan favorite, he owns 15 go-round wins at the NFR, which are still fifth-most of all-time in bareback.

Greenough also dominated the Montana Circuit, winning five titles. He is still tied for most wins on the National Circuit Finals with three championships.

Some may remember the scariest moment of his life when Greenough walked away from a plane crash uninjured. That was in 1998 when the single-engine plane he was on stalled near Riverton, Wyoming. It took rescue crews nearly eight hours to arrive. He was on board with fellow bareback rider Cleve Schmidt, who was not injured, and Marty Buckinham, who escaped with minor injuries. The pilot fractured his leg and was hospitalized.

Greenough also survived a nasty vehicle accident in North Dakota.

Naturally, the Red Lodge cowboy endured his share of bumps and bruises inside the arena, but typically found a way to stay healthy when it mattered most … at the NFR.

“I think I’ve been real lucky,” he said. “I think that’s always been a main factor. I’ve always been healthy and when I’ve left there after 10 days, I’m healthier than I’ve been all year.”

Greenough will be inducted Saturday as one of 10 new members to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. He joins team ropers Speed Williams and Rich Skelton, who won eight straight world titles, contract personnel recipient Leon Coffee, stock contractor Billy Minick, rodeo notable Walt Garrison and the committee for the Black Hills Roundup in Belle Fourche, S.D., as the PRCA inductees.

Following a new tradition established last year, barrel racers from the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) will be among the class of inductees. Their class includes Kristie Peterson, Billie McBride and WPRA equine inductee, French Flash Hawk (Bozo).