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Being a Rodeo Cowboy

By March 2010Comments

Trevor Brazile
Photograph by Artie Limmer

NAME: Trevor Brazile | AGE: 33 | HOME: Decatur | QUALIFICATIONS: Seven-time all-around world champion in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, an achievement shared only by bull rider Ty Murray / Competes in steer roping, tie-down roping, and team roping / First PRCA cowboy since 1983 to win the Triple Crown (three world titles in the same year) / First PRCA cowboy to cross the $3 million mark in career earnings / Competes this month at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

• I first roped off a horse when I was four years old, and I’ve never looked back.

• Both my parents were in rodeo, so I grew up watching it. My dad was a steer roper and a calf roper. You want to get a good foundation when you’re young, before you develop bad habits.

• Before competing, I do research on the calf or steer I’ve drawn. What are his tendencies—does he run more than average? Does he go left or right? You’ve got to make the runs in your head. Then, when you’re in the box, you can let muscle memory and reaction take over.

• A horse makes or breaks you in this industry. Make sure you’ve got a good one under you.

• I’ve never known anything but doing two or three events at every rodeo. When I attend ones that don’t have team or steer roping, like the Calgary Stampede Rodeo, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my time.

• Rodeo is becoming so specialized that it’s harder now to win single events when you’re doing more than one. I tell you, I never thought I’d win the Triple Crown. It all seems unattainable, really—until it just happens.

• It’s hard to say how many hours you should practice, but if you’ve got time to play video games, I’d throw those out the window.

• Anybody who knows me knows I spend most of my time in the practice pen.

• The PRCA National Finals Rodeo, in December, is my favorite event because you rodeo all year to get there—we travel about 150 days annually for PRCA events, plus more for other ones—and because the money you win is your profit for the year. It costs a lot to rodeo: Before I had sponsors, if I won $500,000 in a year, say, I’d spend $250,000 of that on horses. Then there’s the travel and entry fees. All good cowboys aim to make it to finals so they can reinvest their winnings and be on top next year too.

• I’ll be in Canada for an event one week, then in Idaho for another event the next. The way I explain full-time cowboy life: Most people travel the country when they retire; I’m going to retire from traveling the country.

• I have a two-year-old son, Treston, and I don’t care if he ropes, but I do want him to grow up around this industry, with good morals and manners. That’s something rodeo has kept alive that a lot of other sports have lost.

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