Trevor Brazile is a meticulous planner. His practice habits are legendary. Brazile breaks down his arena workouts into segments. Maybe one day he works on a quicker dismount, another day is focused on flanking and another looking for just the right arm swing. All with the goal of slicing off that elusive tenth of a second. It's what separates the world champions from the rest of the field.
So it was kind of fittingly ironic that that cowboy with the master plan had to veer off script to achieve one his greatest accomplishments: Brazile's first world tie-down roping world title.
"Honestly, I didn't know if I'd ever win one of these,'' said Brazile, cradling the tie-down roping gold buckle in his sure hands.
The tie-down roping championship was the final jewel of Brazile's Triple Crown season. He also won the world all-around and steer roping world titles.
"That's special. To win the Triple Crown, everything has to go perfect,'' said the 31-year-old cowboy from Decatur, Texas.
But Brazile's final round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo didn't go perfect and proved to be a testament to both his roping skills and mental toughness. With Cody Ohl and Houston Hutto hot on his backside, Brazile missed his first loop when his 10th-round calf veered right then ducked back to the left. While Ohl had taken a long time of 14.0 seconds, Hutto's 7.8 run was surely going to place in the round.
"I had a plan and it didn't work," Brazile laughed. "It was sheer panic. I went over everything that was fixing to happen and that just wasn't any part of it. I was just trying to get my composure and get it done as fast as possible. I'm tickled to death that it worked out the way it did."
Brazile recovered to finish in 15.4 seconds. It was enough to keep him fifth in the average and give him the world title by a scant $4,277 over Hutto. Ohl, a six-time world champion was third by just $6,802.
"When I left the arena, I didn't know what was happening. I knew it could go either way,'' said Brazile.
Brazile finished with $189,919 in tie-down roping earnings. That included $57,379 won during the 10-round NFR. The money won in tie-down roping helped Brazile earn $425,115, shattering his own PRCA single-season earnings record.
"When it's all said and done, I didn't win $189,000 on that 10th calf. I've had a great year and I've been blessed from start to finish.''
Hampered by a herniated disc, Brazile didn't flash his championship form until the seventh round when he clipped off a tie of 6.7 seconds. It was the fastest tie-down roping run of the NFR. Brazile came to Las Vegas with a lead of $22,000 over Hutto.
"I had to do something,'' he said of re-establishing his dominance. "It was the first time I felt like I could go for it. People were coming up and saying, 'I understand your pain.' But do you have to bend down and pick up a calf?" Brazile finished with a small smile.
Brazile credits the help of friends and family for his championship tie-down roping season. He rested his steady horse Texaco because of an injury and used three different horses during the regular season. That included Boomer owned by Lari Dee Guy, Roy Cooper's horse Boo and Jaguar, a horse that Brazile had previously owned and sold to a friend.
Brazile won tie-down roping titles at nine different rodeos during the regular season.
"I couldn't have done it without all those horses,'' said Brazile. "I am truly thankful for all the friends who helped me. If they didn't let me use those horses, we wouldn't' be talking about world championships.''
Brazile used Jaguar for the NFR. The horse is now owned by Garrett Busby, but Busby allowed Brazile to borrow the horse in the fall and in Las Vegas. "He told me to ride the horse like I owned him,'' Brazile said. "Texaco was ready, but I promised him I would rest him for the year.''
Brazile also placed in the second, third, sixth and eighth rounds. Adding to his injury woes, he twisted an ankle in the ninth round. "That hurt worse than my back,'' he said.
"You know, it's kind of funny. During the fifth and sixth rounds, it looked like I had a better chance to win a world title in team roping,'' said Brazile, who roped with Patrick Smith.
"Of all the events I compete in, tie-down roping is the most competitive. I really didn't know if I'd ever win a title because there are so many good ropers. It's a great feeling that it happened. This has been a special year.''