Taylor Santos had a successful tie-down roping debut at the 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, winning $81,087 at Rodeo’s Super Bowl to close out a successful $182,484 season. The native Californian, whose early cowboy career highlights include the 2009 National Junior High All-Around Championship, 2014 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Tie-Down Roping Title and 2016 Resistol All-Around Rookie of the Year honors, is about to take on another first when he competes at the March 13-15 Cinch Timed Event Championship at the Lazy E Arena. Santos recently spent a little time in the practice pen with the winningest cowboy of all time, Trevor Brazile, who’s also the most successful Timed Event competitor ever.
“It’s not really a secret that my horse (Hank) kind of came unglued at the Finals in the box,” said Santos, who grew up on California’s Central Coast alongside his big brother, Lane, who also will compete at this year’s Timed Event. “When I got home, I made sure he was sound, and thankfully, he was. But I didn’t really know what to do or how to fix him. I called Trevor and asked if he would help me. I’ve always thought his biggest advantage has been his ability to score so much better than most.”
Brazile, who owns a record 25 gold buckles, invited Santos to his home arena in Decatur, Texas.
“I got to know Trevor through my Mom and being around him the first few years I rodeoed,” said Santos, whose mom, Kendra, has become the voice of rodeo through her successful writing career. “That first time we drove through Trevor’s gate when Lane and I were kids, I felt like I was entering the gates of endless knowledge. It would be hard to argue that anyone else is more fundamentally correct or has better horsemanship than him. After Trevor helped me after the Finals with my horse, he’s been good in the box everywhere I’ve ridden him all winter.”
Taylor returned to Trevor’s for a Timed Event tune-up last week.
“Something Trevor asked me when we were calf roping after I had messed up my string a few times was if I had been flanking and tying every day. I told him since the Finals I had only flanked and tied a few times, but I haven’t made it a priority,” said Santos, who won the College National Finals Rodeo his freshman year at Cal Poly before transferring to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, his junior year and living at Joe Beaver’s 8X Ranch. “What Trevor said next stuck with me, and I have thought about it every day since. He said, ‘One thing about this sport is if you don’t treat it like a job, someday you will be forced to get a job.’ That has been huge motivation for me, because Trevor has treated it like a job his whole career, and that’s the reason he’s had so much success.”
As Santos prepares to compete at the Timed Event, which is an event where Brazile holds the record for most titles won with seven, Taylor got more help than he initially sought from Trevor. They roped a few calves, headed and heeled for each other, and even did a little steer roping, which is an event they don’t even have in California. They practiced four of the five events held at the Timed Event, and did everything but bulldog.
“Every time I get to spend time with Trevor and gain some of that knowledge from the master, I feel super lucky,” Santos said. “Last time we tied a steer and videoed it, and when we looked at the video, he broke it down and we studied it at another level. That’s priceless to someone who’s just picking up a new event for the first time.
“We all saw him rodeo and ride his best horses, but to watch Trevor ride his young horses is unreal. I mean, I got to watch Trevor tie the first calf down on a horse when I was there. Trevor has his own methods of horsemanship, and I got to watch how he adapted his methods to each horse. Horses are just like people—no two are exactly the same. And you can tell Trevor understands each horse’s needs. He figures them out, and adjusts to each one’s needs. Sometimes I will work the chutes for him and just watch. I’ll watch where his feet and hands go, and what bit he uses.
“Trevor touches on the mental game, horsemanship, the basics of roping, how to get more out of each run. Being around Trevor is time spent with the greatest cowboy of all time and a man of God. Working hard on getting better at what we both love with Trevor in his arena is an unbelievable experience. He’s a blessing to me and to this sport, and I respect him so much. If I could be around him every day, there’s no telling how much I could learn. I’m grateful for every minute of it.”