Details make the difference.
For about one month out of the year, cowboy Trevor Brazile transforms the arena outside his Decatur home to fit the dimensions of the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas.Brazile, 36, leads the all-star cast of Wise County professional rodeo competitors heading west to compete in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo next week. His team closes in the arena to match the size of the Thomas and Mack Center, but he also modifies the size of the box where horse and rider shoot out.
That box is normally 12 by 16 feet. Brazile has his modified down to 10 by 16 to mimic what he’ll see in Vegas.
“To bring them in 2 feet is pretty unique,” Brazile said. “It makes a huge difference. The horses all adapt quick when they get to Vegas, but even if it’s three runs, that’s three rounds at $18,000 a night. That’s almost $60,000 of adaptation time. I don’t mind everybody else taking that long to adapt, but that’s not what we want to do.
“This gives me the peace of mind that I’ve done everything I can to get ready. It’s not gonna take going out there to get ready.”
Brazile enters the WNFR with yearly earnings totaling $247,977 and a commanding lead to win his 10th all-around world title. It would also be his seventh consecutive all-around.
Second place in all-around belongs to bareback rider Steven Dent of Mullen, Neb.
Brazile also enters the WNFR ranked first in the world, with partner Patrick Smith of Lipan, in team roping, with a $15,000 lead over Chad Masters of Cedar Hill, Tenn.
Health issues this year kept Brazile from competing as much or as well in tie-down roping as he would like. It’s one of the first times in years he didn’t finish the regular season ranked in the top 15 in tie-down.
“Health has been a concern all year,” said Brazile who’s been battling a persistent back injury since last year’s WNFR. “It was a pretty stressful year. I didn’t have my health, horses. There was a lot of uncertainty.”
The range of motion involved in tie-down has been tough on Brazile this year.
“I’m gonna see what next year holds, and see if I can hold it together better health-wise on the tie-down,” he said. “That’s the hardest on me. I can team rope on 14 head of horses a day. That’s what I’ve been doing the last month, and it doesn’t really affect me physically. But something about the repetitive motions I’ve made in the tie-down roping, the flanking, the getting off, is what suffers the most in my performance.”
But he’s also turned the ability to focus on one event into a positive.
“I have more time to work on team roping this time because I’m only in one event this year,” Brazile said. “I want to win the team roping. The better I do in team roping, the better my chances to win the all-around. I try to keep my focus on individual world championships, and it all takes care of itself.
“Obviously the all-around means the most, but the way to go about it is to focus on the team roping. That’s my game plan.”
He’s also got some confidence after finishing with a solid performance in the steer roping finals in Oklahoma. He took second in the world steer roping, finishing just a horse hair behind Rocky Patterson.
“When it comes down to $400, you always say you could have done things different,” Brazile said. “But I prioritize my events throughout the year, and I tend to put team roping first. The hardest thing for me is to sit back and swallow defeat. But you can do it when you know you didn’t leave anything on the table.
“I felt like it was one of the best steer roping finals I’ve had. It was the first time I won the average. It’s hard to take defeat. I don’t like it, but I can live with it when I know it wasn’t because lack of preparation or that I cheated my work ethic.”
Brazile has a lead of more than $103,000 over Dent for the all-around. If Brazile wins the all-around, as expected, the 10th title will just extend his record. He became the cowboy with the most all-around titles back in 2010 when he won broke Ty Murray’s record by earning his eighth.
Winning the all-around will give Brazile his 17th gold buckle, allowing him to break the world record he shares with Jim Shoulders for most world championships by a multi-event cowboy. And if Brazile and Smith win the team roping title, an 18th buckle would tie steer roper Guy Allen for most gold buckles won overall.
It would also make Brazile the first cowboy in the history of the sport to earn multiple championships in four categories.
He has already won nine all-around titles, three steer roping titles, three tie-down titles and one team roping title.
If Brazile and Smith win just one round during the 10 days in Vegas, he’ll have won 51 rounds at the NFR, tying a record held by Billy Etbauer. And every night they win, it will just grow his already-bulging $4.5 million and counting in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association earnings.
Despite the accolades and records, Brazile keeps it all in perspective. Roping with partner Smith helps him do that.
“I think we have a lot of fun together,” Brazile said. “It gets taxing at times because of all the ups and downs in rodeo, especially team roping, because there are more variables.
“Us having so much in common helps. Our kids are the same age. We’re close to the same age. We just have a good time. We’re good friends. We are both able to overcome the downs because they are inevitable. They’re just part of it. Just being mature enough to know you’re going to have them, that’s what keeps us ahead.”
Brazile has never been shy about expressing his faith, which besides his family serves as an anchor in his life.
“With our faith we’re able to keep things in perspective,” Brazile said. “There are a lot of people in this industry whose happiness depends on winning and losing. I think our faith helps us in that regard. We have way too much to be happy for than to get too upset over what does or doesn’t happen in the arena.
“We want to win as much as anybody, but not at the expense of making us or our families miserable.”
Thanks to Trevor Brazile’s attention to detail, winning and happiness are not incompatible.