Wade Wheatley headed at six Wrangler National Finals Rodeos, just like his dad, Jim, did before him. He had a successful rodeo career before riding away to stay home and raise his family. The Hughson, California cowboy is 46 now, so he’s had a little time to reflect on his professional rodeo life. Looking back, were there any rodeo regrets—things he would change if given a rerun? Well, maybe one.
“Yeah, I wish I’d bought a couple horses along the line when I had the chance,” Wheatley said. “I could have bought Calhoon from Pook (Richard Eiguren). I passed, then Trevor (Brazile) kicked my ass on him the next several years.
“Stuff like that still eats my craw a little bit. Calhoon was that year’s Horse of the Year (he won Head Horse of the Year in 2001-02). You can’t get around being mounted and having the horsepower. I should have bought him.”
They say one man’s loss is another man’s gain. The chance to own Smoothly Anchored, aka “Calhoon,” came along at a pivotal crossroads in Brazile’s cowboy career. He’d entered some jackpots and a few rodeos with Allen Bach toward the end of 2002. But Bach had other plans for 2003, which was Brazile’s first full-time season on the heading side.
Trevor bought Calhoon at the 2002 NFR, and headed for Wayne Folmer in 2003. That was the year Trevor became the second cowboy in rodeo history to qualify for the National Finals in four events—heading, heeling, tie-down roping and steer roping—like only Dale Smith had before him.
“Calhoon was a great horse, and Wade wasn’t the only one who passed on him before I bought him,” Trevor said. “I didn’t have the luxury of passing on him. I was coming straight from heeling over to the heading side, and he was my vehicle.
“There were no excuses for not winning on a horse like him. If I couldn’t win on Calhoon, I knew I was the weakest link. I didn’t care about people talking about how good I headed if I didn’t make the Finals on that horse.”
Trevor and Calhoon had a few great years before the giant palomino’s career came to an abrupt halt while he was still in his prime. Calhoon was kicked in the pasture, it broke his leg and he had to be put down. It was a sad, sudden end for such a great one. But Calhoon will always have a special spot in the story of Trevor Brazile.