Words by Blanche Schaefer
Photography by GreenFox Marketing

 

Much of Beau Mills’ life has been dedicated to professional baseball. Son of Cleveland Indians bench coach Brad Mills, Beau was drafted professionally in 2007 and played until 2012. Though baseball is his first love, bucking bulls are his second.

“In 2009 I was home in the offseason and ran across something where you could own a bucking bull but not have to train it or haul it or go to the events yourself—you had trainers who did that, like in the horse world,” Beau said. “I had always been interested in bucking bulls from the Professional Bull Riders. A week and a half later, me and my dad bought two bulls. I’ve been doing it about 10 years, and last year I decided I wanted to move to Texas and buy my own ranch, do this full time and do it myself.”

The California native traded in the dirt of the diamond for the dirt of the arena and started his own bucking bull breeding and training operation, Red Laces, in early 2018 on his ranch in Granbury. Beau’s unique connections in professional baseball provided the perfect niche to launch his business and draw his first clientele.

“I know how it is during the season—it’s eight to nine months you’re locked up in baseball. I knew guys would be interested in bucking bulls once they found out they can own a bull and not have to do anything,” Beau said. “They just get to enjoy the competition aspect of it—seeing their bull grow up, bucking in competition, and hopefully one day getting to the PBR and seeing them on TV. You don’t have to be a professional baseball player to be a part of Red Laces, but that’s how I’ve kept in touch with my friends in professional baseball and kept what I know still in my bloodstream.”

Building Blocks
The cornerstone to Beau’s program is exceptional genetics. Similar to the equine industry, bloodlines are crucial to creating animals who will grow into elite athletes capable of competing on the biggest stages of their sport. Beau’s focus is on the maternal line especially— breeding top-producing cows to top-performing bulls to create genetic powerhouses.

“I am definitely not holding anything back when it comes to breeding. I’ve purchased a lot of top-notch cows who have already produced big-time bulls, and I’m doing a lot of [embryo transfer and artificial insemination] to create full siblings to major bucking bulls,” Beau said. “If the dam has not produced a winning bucking bull, then her dam better have or I’m not breeding to it. I’m not going out and buying anything and everything. I’m going for quality, and I believe my percentages will be better in doing so.”

Bulls develop under Beau’s careful watch at the ranch, with a focus on high-quality nutrition, fitness and healthcare to prepare them for training. Potential buyers can purchase bulls of varying ages, depending on what level they want to buy in. Beau offers bulls for sale as early as yearlings, and the American Bucking Bull Inc. competition years are tiered similar to futurity events in the equine industry—a 2-year-old bull competes in the futurities and bucks without a rider, a 3-year-old bull competes in derbies and will buck with a rider on its back for the first time, and a 4-year-old competes in classics. Each aged-event division is limited only to bulls of that same age.

“What I suggest to most people is buy a yearling or 2-year-old and learn the game, and if you like it then keep going on with that bull. There are people who own a bull who are partners with 10 different friends, they name their group, they create shirts and have fun doing it,” Beau said. “It’s as simple as getting into contact with me, tell me what you’re looking for, have a conversation

about this game to figure out what suits you best. My place is open to anybody, so you can come watch the bulls buck here live. You’ll watch that bull grow up, mature and be trained and then go off to competition and win money. Some of these you can win anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 at each competition.”

After the bull’s fourth year, the aged events conclude and the bull can move on to the major leagues in the PBR.

“If the bull is good enough, we’ll play at the derby, the classic, and get into the PBR and you’ll get to watch your bull buck on TV,” Beau said. “It’s like watching your kid grow up in tee ball and then get into the Big Leagues. There he is on TV, and you’ve watched that bull grow all the way through.”

Athlete’s Perspective
Beau’s experience as a professional athlete gives him a thorough understanding of the body’s daily requirements to perform at the highest level.

“There’s lots of similarities with sports in general and the bucking bull athlete,” Beau said. “I do have knowledge when it comes to sports and training and understanding competition, and that has definitely carried over into training these athletes and the bulls.”

The bulls in his program are given professional-level care from Day One. As the chief caretaker, breeder and trainer at Red Laces, Beau has developed a comprehensive and detailed wellness program for every bull.

“The bucking bull is an athlete just the way a base- ball player is,” Beau said. “We’ve got to take care of their bodies, we’ve got to take care of their nutrition, we’ve got to train them like you do in professional baseball. The competition side leading up to an event is just like on gameday—you tailor yourself to get ready for the game, just like in the bucking bull world you tailor the bull to get ready to compete that day.”

The Future of Red Laces
Between building his breeding herd and cultivating a customer-oriented program, Beau has big visions for Red Laces beyond championships in the arena.

“I bought a Championship Bull Riding bull team, which is a rider bull team, and then I’m going to go pursue my PBR card,” Beau said. “Our goal at Red Laces is to have a big group of customers who own bulls through us that we are able to go to any competition, from year- ling to PBR, and satisfy whatever the customer’s goal is. I want to provide a top-notch facility for people to stay at the ranch and get that Western feel. I don’t care if you’re a city slicker who lives in New York City—you can own a bucking bull and come out and experience this for the weekend, put on some jeans, feel like a cowboy, ride some horses around the ranch, enjoy your bucking bull, watch him buck and then fly back home to your everyday life. It’s an escape that Red Laces is trying to provide for the customers.”

There’s a lot of money to be won in the bucking bull industry. But Beau’s got his eyes on the bigger picture.

“Beyond the money, it’s a lot of fun. It’s addicting. It’s a good group of people in this industry,” Beau said. “When you come to competitions and watch bulls buck, you’re going to be around great people and meet new friends. [At the beginning of November], we’re going out to Las Vegas for the [American Bucking Bull Inc.] finals, and I have people who qualified for that on our ranch. The owners get to fly into Vegas, surrounded by a lot of people with the same interests, and have a really good time. It’s just a fun deal to be a part of.”

Making the Move
Originally from Visalia, California, Beau Mills knew he wanted to launch Red Laces somewhere in Texas. Beau is first and foremost a husband and father and wanted a quaint town with access to a metropolitan area for his four young children and wife, Alicia.
“I had never heard of Granbury, and then my buddy who lived in Stephenville sent me this listing for our ranch. The city and town looked amazing—everything about it, the history, the culture,” Beau said. “At 36 weeks pregnant, my wife and I flew out here last spring and when we drove through the square, that was the town we pictured. When we came out to this ranch, it was a no-brainer.”

The growing family made the cross-country trek to Granbury in spring 2018 and has felt at home ever since—despite living in a hotel for the first few weeks.

“This city has been unreal since we got here,” Beau said. “We painted the inside and outside of our house when we first moved here, so we lived in the Hilton right there on Lake Granbury by the square for six weeks, and our kids felt like we owned the place. We got to see the town, the square, and meet some really neat people. We love Granbury, we love this area, and we love what we’re doing.”