When Trevor Brazile announced his retirement from full-time rodeo in December of 2018, even he didn't know quite what that retirement would look like.
But some eight months into 2019, the picture is a little more clear. "Semi-retirement" for Brazile looks a little familiar—he's the number-two man in the world in the steer roping. He led the pack for much of the summer, slipping to second behind Andrews, Texas cowboy Vin Fisher Jr. after a slow few weeks in July. Brazile has $48,055.72 to Fisher's $53,950.15, their nearest competitor being J. Tom Fisher at third with $38,529.09.
"I never went to more than 20 or 30 steer ropings in a year," Brazile said. "This year I thought the ones that happened to be good rodeos I’d team rope and rope calves at, and the ones that weren’t, I’d just trip. It’s a really good pace because I can go to what I thought I wanted to go to and still have a chance to be somewhat successful."
Brazile has already been to 20 rodeos in the steer roping, placing at 14 of them, with two months left in rodeo's regular season. He won the average at the Ram National Circuit Finals of Steer Roping in Torrington and two go-round checks there, too, worth $4,421, and picked up his biggest check at the San Angelo Roping Fiesta in February, worth $8,100 for the average win and another $3,000 in the rounds. He won the steer roping at the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, worth another $5,211.
"My goal is to win everywhere I go so I have a chance by not going as much," Brazile said. "You have to have your win percentage up. I don’t have any excuse not to be practiced up, but I guess a young horse is my only excuse. I’m home, I should be ready. When you're going less your win percentage just has to be better."
Remembering to enter just one event between kids' soccer practices and baseball games is proving a challenge, Brazile admitted, as he's missed the books on a few good rodeos he'd planned to attend.
"I used to call PROCOM every day, and I was in the know. They sneak up on me now. Tuf (Cooper) enters me some, and Tony Reina enters me because I wasn’t getting up everywhere. I did all my own entering my whole career, but it's nice to have some help now," Brazile said.
This spring, Brazile sold his good grey tripping horse, Barney, on whom he's won the world and the Cinch Timed Event Championship, as well as the Pendleton Round-Up in the heading. That was part of his liquidation of great horses—selling out of horses like Boogie, JV and Banker.
So Brazile asked Trick, an 8-year-old Starlight Gypsy-bred head horse he and Lari Dee Guy had partnered on, to step up after this year's Cinch Timed Event Championship. Trick is a paternal half brother to Clay Smith's good sorrel horse Ransom, Charly Crawford and Billy Bob Brown's NFR horse Dirty Harry, Jake Cooper's Tombstone and Hope Thompson's Reserve AQHA World Champion calf horse, Ink.
"I sold Barney as soon as I had some confidence in Trick," Brazile explained. "It’s made it more fun now that I have a new horse to bring along. That makes it a whole new dimension to it other than just going to some steer ropings. It’s hard to be sharp when you’re staying in the stirrup with your horse too long. I’m having to train on the fly at the rodeos. I’m working on him accelerating when I swing my leg over so I don’t have to stay there as long, and we're making progress."
Brazile's career earnings now sit at $6,847,494.74. He's won steer roping world titles in 2006 and 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping—which takes back the top 15 in the PRCA world standings and awards a gold buckle, just like every other event—is held in the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas, November 22 and 23. TRJ