Making the Leap

Futurity Horse to Rodeo Horse?
Will today’s futurity head horses make the transition to rodeo horses?
Trevor Brazile heading on Bama Fury.
Brazile on Bama Fury in 2023, one of the year’s top futurity head horses. | Lexi Smith media

Can a good futurity horse make a good rodeo horse?

At this early point in the year, there are some 7-year-olds that are fresh out of the futurity programs starting to trickle out into jackpot and rodeo competition. 

The American Rope Horse Futurity Association started having its World Championship in Fort Worth in 2017, so we’re seven years into this “modern era” of futurity horses. With that, I’ve heard people say that a good futurity horse won’t make a good rodeo horse, and that great rodeo horses wouldn’t have been great futurity horses. There are cases where that’s been the case, but mostly, you can find the best up-and-coming rodeo horses at the futurities, and some of the best rodeo horses I ever rode would have made great futurity horses. 

Trevor Brazile riding Pine Time Boogie at the 2013 NFR.
Brazile on Pine Time Boogie at the 2013 NFR—a horse Brazile believes would have been a standout at the futurities today, too. | Hubbell Rodeo photos

2024 Rope Horse Futurity Calendar

Sic ’Em would have been a great futurity horse. Boogie would have been a great futurity horse. Wishbone would have been a good futurity horse. Banker even would have been a great futurity horse, even though he turned his head a little. 

There’s not a doubt in my mind our coming 5-year-old Bugatti—Bama Fury—barring any injury, will be a great rodeo horse. And people talk about “great rodeo horses” like that’s one thing. Really, there are summer rodeo horses, there are winter rodeo horses. There are great rodeo head horses that never excelled at the Finals. There have been super NFR horses that were marginal everywhere else. When they score and they move their feet good, if they’re not big-time runners, they’d be good NFR horses or winter horses if they’re strong enough to pull up a wall. On the racehorse side, there are horses that would be great summer rodeo horses or jackpot horses.

The horses that are great in the winter, great outdoors, great at the Finals, those are the unicorns, and making any generalizations about where those ones come from is nearly impossible. 

When you’re watching a futurity, you have to keep in mind that those horses are still learning so much at that stage. So when you instill those fundamentals correctly when they’re in their futurity careers and as they’re coming out of them, you’re letting these horses go be solid in the interim to where they have a great foundation. And then they have the repetition going to the cow, and they’re comfortable in their skin where they’re not doing everything off cues. The foundation is still key, and we put that into the futurity horses too.

Conversely, if you go to teaching them the bad stuff, their career is shortened. If you take one straight from the futurities to tough setups and ask them for their lives, you’re going to struggle and those are the ones that you’ll hear people say won’t make it. But if you’re putting the right foundation into them, there’s no reason you can’t see great futurity horses go on to be great rodeo horses.  

—TRJ—

Want more from Trevor Brazile? 
There’s only one place to find it, and that’s on Roping.com. The Relentless Remuda’s entire training library—including the evolution of some of their best-ever futurity horses that became ProRodeo mounts—is documented from start to finish on Roping.com.   

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