Just when we think we’ve seen it all from the winningest cowboy of all time, he raises the bar on mere mortal cowboy moves and makes headlines yet again. Trevor Brazile pulled off a record sixth Pendleton Round-Up all-around crown in 2018, breaking bronc riding bulldogger Yakima Canutt’s century-old mark—but not before literally saving lives with some heads-up handiness during his last run at this year’s rodeo.
Trevor’s catastrophe-prevention maneuvering likely cost him the steer roping championship, but he’s not complaining. This, ladies and gentlemen, can only be classified as a serious case of cowboy cool. And it speaks of the guy behind that record collection of 23 gold buckles. As the King of the Cowboys put it, “I can live with second better than killing someone.”
To set the stage riding into the short round, Trevor led the steer roping pack by eight-tenths of a second. Most steers won’t run straight into a sea of people with long camera lenses pointed straight at them, so the expectation was a left-hand turn. Instead, this particular steer zagged right.
“The announcer said I had 20 to win it, and I knew 14.9 was winning the round,” said Trevor, who when it was all said and done finished seven-tenths of a second behind steer roping champ Chris Glover, who came from third to win it. “Those were the only things in my head when I was riding in to run that steer. When I was going through those people (two photographers were literally between his horse and that steer at one point), I knew I probably wasn’t going to place in the short round. I wrote off the short round when things started getting a little Western out there. But I thought I could get through there and still tie him in under 20.”
Trevor was riding Shay Good’s red-roan tripping horse, Tyroan.
“That was a lot to ask of him,” said Trevor, who by day’s end broke colorful cowboy legend Canutt’s record of five Pendleton all-around titles, which he won between 1917 and 1923. “The whole situation would have rattled any horse. After we went through the herd of photographers, I laid the trip on the dirt, which has a lot different resistance than when we got onto the grass. The crowd was pretty animated at that point also (the Round-Up set attendance records again this year). There was just nothing normal about that run for any of us.”
Most cowboys would have been deeply disappointed—if not flat mad—about having to make such a split-second decision in the heat of Round-Up trophy-saddle battle. Trevor Brazile is not most cowboys, and his class and grace were not lost on the grass. By the way, in addition to the $13,705 all-around championship at the 108th annual grass classic, he placed second in two events last week at the Dixie Roundup in St. George, Utah, to take the $3,929 all-around title there, too.
“If I thought those guys were just going to have to limp out of there, it might have been a different story,” teased Trevor, who’s Pendleton wins now total eight—all-around championships in 1999, 2012-15, and ’18; tie-down roping, 1999; and team roping, when he and Patrick Smith split it with Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill in 2015. Part of Trevor’s 2018 Pendleton prize package included his and Patrick’s 4.9-second, second-round win, which was the fastest of the rodeo. “But I really felt that if I’d laid the trip where I wanted to, there was going to be an ambulance involved. There was a long line of cameras right there, and none of us expected that steer to split the crowd, like he did. Animals don’t usually choose the high-traffic route. That situation had terrible potential.
“I don’t regret my decision at all. Everybody expected me to be mad, but I knew somebody’s family was going to have to come out there if somebody got hurt real bad, and it wasn’t worth sacrificing people. From where I was sitting, there was going to be a whole lot worse outcome than winning second if I didn’t do everything I could to avoid a disaster. It’s easy for people to say I should have gone on with it and not worried about those other guys. But it’s different when you have the reins in your hands, and you control the fate of others. I feel like I made the right choice. At the end of the day, we’re all just people, and we all need to do our best to be our best, no matter what curveballs come our way. We all walked away. That’s the main thing.”