A Blueprint for Longevity

Trevor Brazile’s Wishbone has outlasted the test of team roping time. 

Treston Brazile heads for his dad aboard Wishbone (May Be a Frenchman X Clints Darling), now 20.
Shelby Lynn photo

Late last year, Shada and I bought back a 2003 gelding named Higgins Frenchman for our son Treston from the Richey family. Treston is really getting into team roping, and “Wishbone” is a known commodity for me: He’s the horse I rode at multiple NFRs in the team roping, and he was my short-score horse for years. 
It’s rare that a horse can go from NFR horse almost 10 years ago to junior rodeo horse at 20 and stay as sound and as honest as Wishbone has. I wish I knew the secret—the exact combination that made him last for nearly two decades in this game—but here are some things I think could have helped him stay in the game this long. 
Wishbone—by May Be A Frenchman out of Clints Darling by Clints Darkey—is a horse I first bought 10 years ago from Todd Hughes in Canyon, Texas. Todd had bought him from a heeler in Midland, Texas, and Todd was heading on him when I saw him. 
 He had a lot of cool stuff about him. I wouldn’t consider him a big horse, as far as head horses go, but he’s bigger than your average switchender. He just seems to be really balanced conformationally, though. His feet are fast, and he moves his feet really well. But his awareness of where his body is in the run is something that’s helped keep him from getting hurt all these years. His ability to place his feet throughout the run has really been a benefit to him. 
I think a strong suit to a horse must be his draw to the cow, and I think by not being reached on for the better part of his life, he learned as a default to go to the cow every time. I think that was probably something that was imprinted in him by guys who didn’t throw rope and duck out of there. That made him have a great default mode: He was always trying to go to the cow. That sounds really simple but, if you watch The Cowboy Channel very much, there are a lot of horses that go to a lot of places other than toward the cow when they leave the box. Headers are having to guide them toward the cow every time, and that’s not a great spot to be in and not a great indicator of longevity. 
When I was riding Wishbone in the Thomas & Mack, very rarely did I go all 10 rounds on the same horse. There’s a way to get a diminished return in Las Vegas on a horse. 
What I mean: You’ll be doing so well, and you don’t want to make a change. But, no matter how good one feels, you’ll feel something coming—because that setup is tough. You cannot ignore that feeling, because a horse will get a little harder and harder as those rounds go on. And before you know it, they’ll beat you. You have to call a spade a spade and make a change, and that was something I did in that building when I felt it. 
I never rode him at a lot of the long-score stuff. He wasn’t the fastest horse in the barn at any one time. But he was always one you could count on and you knew what you were getting every time. He didn’t have any cheat. I find that is one of the strongest traits of any of my great horses—no cheat. They let me keep reaching, keep doing what I need, without making me pay the price. I’ve learned to appreciate that in horses: the ones that stay naïve and don’t try to beat you. 
Lastly, Wishbone spent his time between my riding him at the Finals and us getting him back years later for Treston at the Richey’s place. I know he’s never had a joint injection. Both of our programs feed good supplements, and there’s something about knowing what you’re getting for your kid. Knowing he’s been hearty enough to hold up better than most horses gives me a peace of mind. Wishbone at 20 is better than most horses at 15 because he’s held up to battle.

Brazile making an NFR victory lap on Wishbone in 2014. Hubbell rodeo photos

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