Trevor Brazile Signs with Pro Equine Group

Greenville, TX – Cactus Saddlery, Cactus Ropes, and Pro Equine Products are pleased to announce that Trevor Brazile has become a member of their endorsement teams. The three companies will collaborate to create an entire series of Trevor Brazile equine products.

“After Trevor’s Triple Crown win last year, we all knew that we wanted to work with him. He has proven that he is one of the greatest cowboys of our time, and we are all proud to be working with him,” said Scott Thomas, General Manager of Cactus Saddlery. Trevor Brazile commented, “I’m excited to have found three companies that can create an entire line of products for me. I know that they will make quality products for me and other competitors to use.”

Trevor will be swinging his branded Cactus rope at the 2008 WNFR, creating the perfect time for Cactus Ropes to release Trevor’s four strand head, heel, calf, and kid ropes. Cactus Saddlery and Pro Equine Products will follow with their products to be released in mid 2009. Pro Equine Products will create splint and bell boots, horse blankets, and stable and trailer accessories. Cactus Saddlery will develop saddles, pads and blankets, and tack to complete the Trevor Brazile series.


Definition of a Cowboy (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Once again Calgary proves why they are the best and able to draw the biggest crowd in rodeo, with the exception of Las Vegas. From a contestant’s view point Calgary rolls out the red carpet. We get the chance to compete for $100,000, we get reserved parking, our stalls bedded down and each receive $1,000 when we get there. Calgary draws phenomenal crowds by showcasing the best competition and using the best livestock available, making many new fans in the process.

After a disappointing Fourth of July run, it was nice to go to Calgary and stay in one place for a week, after traveling like a mad man. I compare it to a working vacation where you get a chance to win a lot of money. Between the rodeo and the invitational jackpot I won about $20,000.

The big winner at Calgary was Jeff Chapman. Times got pretty tough and towards the end, on Wild Card Saturday it took a 7.0-second run or faster to make the top ten finalists. The final four were Jeff Chapman, Cody Ohl, Dean Edge and Blair Burke. Jeff and Cody were both 6.9 during the final four, and since they don’t split there, they had to rope it off. Cody went first and his calf ducked off causing him to miss. Jeff went on to rope his and won the $100,000 with Cody winning about $35,000.

As nice as it is at Calgary, the real world keeps on spinning and during that week I slipped in the standings. Now it’s back to reality where I need to make about two rodeos a day through August.

Because of the popularity of Calgary with both the fans and the contestants there are rumors flying about some of the bigger PRCA rodeos wanting to follow suit. My hope is that if they do – they do it all the way. All that added money is great, but not if they load it all to the first place winners. If they’ll follow the example set at Calgary they should be very successful.

In the next couple of weeks the top fifteen, plus five more invited, will head back to Joplin, Missouri for the second annual Best of the Best tie down roping put on by Jackie Moore. This roping just keeps getting better as this year they are adding $80,000. I expect the winner will walk away with close to $50,000.

Everyone wants to know if the fuel prices have reduced the number of contestants this summer. Not so far as I can see, but some guys will go to Cheyenne and then decide whether or not to keep going, so the fall rodeos may fall off some.

Actually people at home talk more about fuel prices than we do out here on the road. It’s a credit to the sport. After all, what’s the definition of a cowboy? Adapt and overcome. Its just part of it.

God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.


Position (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Real estate agents will tell you there are three important factors when selling property: location, location, location. In roping and tying the three important factors are position, position, position. I’ll take someone who has good position over someone with speed any day. With good position comes speed and everything that stems off that.

Good position can be as broad as the placement of your foot in the stirrup all the way to your position in life. Most mistakes made, in roping and in life, are a result of bad positioning.

When Patrick Smith started team roping he positioned himself with one of the greatest ropers and teachers we know, Allen Bach. He would video himself while roping the sawhorse to watch his swing and delivery. He would study these and other videos of himself roping steers. Within seven to eight years of starting roping, Patrick became a world champion. He had repeatedly positioned himself well.

You need to have a plethora of information at your disposal and be able to think outside the box. Most people go to the same arena, rope the same kind of calves on the same kind of horse. Conventional athletics have shown that if you want to be more diverse you need to open your mind to other types of training. I’ve done that myself in the last few years as I’ve gone outside the arena to train on the bicycle and in the weight room. I’ve changed the way I eat and have lost thirty pounds. Does it make a difference? I’m thirty-eight and feel better than I have in ten years.

I want people to be able to take my experiences and knowledge and apply it to help make them better. Use the things I’ve learned and make it your own – only better. Don’t try to emulate me, do better. A great way to learn is to observe the top guys and their position.

If your physical position while horseback is your problem, consider if you need to improve your riding skills. If you want to improve, ride outside the arena. Take your saddle off and ride bareback. One must learn to ride before one learns to rope.

My goal is to challenge you to think and try new things. Maybe you’re all waiting for something specific for position. “Where should my position be for my foot in the stirrup, my hand on the reins, how long should the spoke of my rope be?” All these details are an intricate part of roping. When you want to know the position of every aspect of your body, tack, etc… That’s what separates the top guys from the rest. My position may not work for others. It’s imperative that you spend the time to find your correct position – in roping and in life.

God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.


Cactus Ropes Unveils Innovative Box Pad Design

PLEASANTON, TEXAS (August 15, 2008) – Now available from Cactus Ropes is an innovative box pad design that removes the pain of shipping, transporting, carrying and storing the item. Not only is the box pad a clever design, it is also economically priced.

The box pads are offered in two sizes. The three-paneled box pad is 4’X4’ and the six-paneled is 4’X8’. The box pads feature heavy-duty webbing on the edges and reinforced D-rings on the top, bottom and center of the pad for trouble-free attachment. The two alligator clips and straps secure the box pads in its storing position and the conveniently-placed handle makes carrying a breeze. The accordion-style design is one that makes this box pad distinctive in the industry. Your logo can also be added to the unique box pad.

This is one corner you will not be afraid to back into – Cactus has your back.


Down and Dirty (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Many ropers become intimidated when they have to rope in the mud. Since I’ve just come from Bremerton, Washington, where it’s been raining for a week and since mud played a role in the Best of the Best roping in Springfield, Missouri, I thought I’d talk about it this month.

During the first two rounds the arena was dry and the best time at that point had been a 7.9. During the lunch break, before the third round, it rained straight down and the arena became muddy. They give a $5,000 bonus for the fastest time and I joked that whoever had the 7.9 would be tickled because it probably wouldn’t be beat in the mud. However, in the third round there was a 6.6, a 7.0 and a 7.5 and as it turned out, the 7.9 wouldn’t even have placed in the third round.

After the third round, they take the top four and have another three head roping. This year the top four were Trevor Brazile, Ryan Jarrett, Cimarron Boardman and Josh Peek. Congratulations to Trevor for winning the roping and $45,000. A big thanks to Jackie Moore for having this event; it’s a great opportunity for all of us.

When the elements play a factor, the top ropers compensate for that and don’t let it intimidate them. If anything, in this case, they sped up. Most of the time roping in the mud is not as bad as you think it will be. Worst case scenario is that you have to take five steps in it.

Personally, roping in the mud make me do things more correctly. I can’t afford to get myself out of position, especially on the ground, and I can’t just move any which way. I try to concentrate on my position.

There’s a good chance my horse will be slower and may have trouble catching up or getting in position so I’ll be ready to compensate for that by reaching. I know when I start that’s a possibility so I’m prepared for it. Anticipate that your horse won’t be as smooth because it’s almost like he’s lunging and jumping causing your body to move more. Again, anticipate this and be prepared for it.

When I get off, I really try to have myself in control because it’s easy to over run yourself in the mud and not very easy to change directions and move your feet. I’m very conscious of every step being the right step. I don’t give a lot of thought to flanking but I am very deliberate in my movements.

When you expect these things and are prepared then it won’t be an obstacle you have to instantly overcome. No one likes roping in the mud, but remember when you have to – so does everyone else.

Until next time God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line.


Cactus Ropes Brings a New 4-Strand Rope Line to the Market

PLEASANTON, TEXAS (July 18, 2008) – During the pre-release testing period Cactus Ropes recognized they had developed an exceptional rope line. The excitement generated by pros and amateurs alike is a clear indication that these head and heel ropes are going to dominate the rope market.

The MOJO and MOJO-LITE four strand ropes are well received by our Cactus endorsees David Key, Jake Long, Coleman Proctor, Tommy Zuniga, Brady Minor and Cuatro Hindes. While they and others have been winning at major roping events using other Cactus brands, there is certainly a changeover to our MOJO and MOJO-LITE says Barry Berg, rope maker at Cactus.

Coleman Proctor and Jake Long using the MOJO brand set an arena record at the Bob Feist Invitational in Reno, Nevada in June.

Their time: a lightning fast 4.46 seconds.

Coleman said “The smooth feel and consistent swing have convinced me there is no better rope for me.”

David Key’s enthusiastic response using the MOJO-LITE at the Windy Ryon in Texas in 100-degree heat: “The durability of the rope is what I like best about it.”


Mental Game (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Frequently I’m asked about the mental game of roping. So this month I’m going to share a few things that have helped me and if you’re someone who really struggles with the mental aspect of roping, maybe we can change your perspective.

One of the key words that I often say out loud to myself is “persevere.” It’s real easy to be upbeat and positive when you’re roping good and winning. It’s when things go wrong that you find out what you’re made of.

Last month the cover of this magazine featured Doug Pharr being in the #1 position. It was only a couple of years ago that Doug and I had been visiting at a rodeo and discussing how he was coming together with his horse. Doug and his brother, Tim, left that rodeo and had a wreck that ended up killing their horses. Now here he is at the top, which is a pretty vivid example of perseverance. Doug and Tim have come full circle and are both in the top fifteen and I congratulate them and wish them the best this year in their quest for the NFR.

I think everything in life can be classified in one of two categories: positive or negative. The answer to the old saying, “Is your cup half full, or is it half empty?” all depends on your perspective. We all have negative experiences, in and out of the arena. In my roping I try to take a negative experience, learn from it and improve in that area. Then I’ve taken a negative and turned it into a positive.

Draw on past experiences to help you prepare. Even if you are just a beginner, you’ve made a good run that stands out in your mind. Take that positive experience and dwell on it. Relive it. Don’t spend a lot of time beating yourself up for mistakes. Figure out why you made the mistake and go to work on improving in that area.

After having chosen the topic for this article, ironically I picked up the Spin to Win this month and the champ, Clay Cooper, was talking about preparing to catch the high money steer. Clay Cooper has forgotten more about roping than most of us will ever know and when he has something to say, I quit talking and listen. Clay doesn’t make a lot of small talk and when he has something to say it’s worthy of taking notes.

In that article Clay pointed out that in the big picture of life, is it really going to matter five years from now? That’s keeping things simple and in perspective. For me, it’s easy because it’s not in my hands anyway. I do the best I can, but it’s ultimately in God’s hands.

Ninety-nine percent of people, who rope, get caught up in the mental game. You start thinking about things and before long your mind is messing with you and before long – your mind is your worst enemy. If you’re one of the few who can rope their calves without being affected by being high call or thinking about the money – then you’ve cheated the system. You’re unconscious and like a rattlesnake without any rattles. The other 99.9% deal with the pressure of thinking about things. That’s when it’s important to draw from your past successes.

As for myself, I try not to put any unnecessary pressure on myself. It doesn’t matter whether I’m roping for a gold buckle or in my own practice pen. I’m still roping a calf that costs $400.

If you can learn to rope with the attitude of building on past successes and making use of things you’ve learned from failures, then you won’t have to cheat the system. You’ll be more deadly than the unconscious rattlesnake.

I don’t gamble, but there’s a saying in gambling that you don’t play with “scared money.” That’s true in calf roping too. Don’t back in the box being afraid of losing. Being afraid of missing or losing opens the doors for negative thoughts to flood your mind. Drawing from your success, being confident and aggressive is positive and much more powerful.


Slaying our Giants (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

There’s no doubt in my mind that my father would have been a world champion calf roper if he had chosen to make a career in rodeo. I have a picture of him from the National Finals Rodeo in Dallas where he was getting off on the right side and holding his slack. Obviously he was way ahead of his time. The most rodeos he made in any one year was thirty-eight, and that’s back when most people went to all they could get to.

There were two things that kept him from being all that he could be as a roper or from winning world titles.

First, he never spent any amount of money for a horse and always made his own. There’s nothing wrong with that and I respect him for that.

Secondly, he had a family with five kids and did not want to leave us. He always had one or two jobs at home and just went to a few rodeos. He stayed home for his family. My dad has no regrets what-so-ever and knows he made the right choice. As one of his five kids, I know I’m grateful. Having my dad there while I was growing up and learning had a huge impact on the man and roper I am today.

Knowing this, I’ve taken those two things on in my own life as giants to slay. I focus on those two things and will do whatever it takes. I’ll never let money keep me from buying the right horse, even if I have to borrow it.

As for the other, I don’t want to be away from my family anymore than my father did. To be the husband and father I want to be, I need to have my family with me. As much as I love what I do, it will never be as important or deprive me of my family. Therefore, we travel in a ‘Toter Home’ which is basically like a NASCAR tour bus with living quarters.

To excel at anything requires sacrifice of some kind. In the last year, by working with a trainer, I’ve radically improved my strength and agility. None of which came without sacrifice. Whether it’s giving up some of my favorite food or the hundred plus sit-ups I do every day, it’s worth it for the improvement it’s made in me and my roping.

In the end, I won’t define my career by world titles, NFR qualifications, or money won. I will judge myself by asking if I did everything possible to be the very best I could be. To really evaluate my career, everything has to be taken in perspective including the adversities, wins, and losses. That’s what I use to evaluate myself and not by comparing myself to others. I will have to know, without a doubt that I left nothing to chance and no stone unturned.

If you have giants you need to slay, go after them with whatever you have. Even if it’s only a slingshot.

See you down the line and God bless.


How do you Win? (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

The million-dollar question that I hear most is, “How do you win?” The answer is in how well you deal with pressure. Pressure will either make you or break you and how you handle it will determine how successful you’ll be.

To me pressure is a privilege. Say you’re in the short go – how did you get there? I’m sure it wasn’t with a lottery ticket or being pulled out of a crowd. At the National Finals they don’t randomly draw fifteen contestants from each event. Those are the top fifteen who have won over and over. The next time you’re in that situation with sweaty palms and a cottonmouth, remember you earned the right to be there. Being in that situation also means you’re prepared for those times. You’ve trained and prepared yourself for this moment in time, or you wouldn’t be there.

Pressure can be a huge distraction, but I choose to feed from it and let it make me even more focused and determined.

The way to deal with pressure is to focus. To stay focused I use the KISS method – “Keep it simple Stran.” I take that nervous energy and channel it into focus, which heightens my senses. I can recall being in situations where I was so focused that things slowed down and it was like being in slow motion. I couldn’t hear the announcer, I could almost smell my rope – I was so focused my senses were ultra sensitive.

There are a few things I concentrate on when I rope. I will focus on what I’m doing with my eyes and where I’m looking. When I’m sitting in the box I will find a spot on my calf’s neck – not the entire calf or just the neck area – I’m talking about an inch square. I watch that part of his neck to see my start and focus on that. It’s easy to get caught up in the announcer or the crowd when you’re in a strange place. You need to learn to tune those distractions out and make it your own.

You can’t wait until you get to the WNFR in Las Vegas to get control of your mind. We talk a lot about practicing, well, practice focusing – faithfully because it takes a lot of practice to master. It’s well worth it because controlling emotions and handling pressure is the difference between those who win and those who don’t.

Another key in focusing and winning is knowing your limitations and staying within them. How many times have you seen someone at the rodeo try something they wouldn’t have attempted at home? No matter how long you’ve roped or how much you’ve won, you will always need to focus because that rope only knows one thing. It goes where you throw it.

Stay focused and I’ll see you down the line. God Bless.


You’re Always Making Memories (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I’m up in Austin tonight and it made me think of a funny story. About seven years ago I was traveling with a rookie named Josh Crow, who’s now one of my best friends. Naturally being a rookie, he endured a lot of ribbing from me but overall he took it pretty well.

We had just finished roping in Austin and stopped to eat a bite before getting on the interstate. Leaving the restaurant our driver, Johnny, headed for the truck and as Josh and I started to get in the trailer we noticed the generator had come unplugged. Josh told me to go ahead, he’d climb up top and take care of it.

I got settled in the trailer, put in a movie and we took off. Josh never got in the trailer so I figured he decided to ride in the truck. We’d barely gotten on the interstate when my phone rang. All I could hear was wind blowing and someone screaming. Finally I realize that it’s Josh and I think he’s trying to play a trick on me by leaning out of the truck window.

The call gets dropped and my phone rings again. This time I hear Josh screaming, “I’m on the trailer!!!”

We’re on interstate I-35 going about 75 miles an hour and Josh is scared to death. I try to call Johnny up in the truck and he’s not answering. I figure I’ll stick a corner of the comforter out of the trailer window to get his attention. He doesn’t notice that so I keep feeding the comforter out of the window until almost the entire king size comforter is flapping beside the trailer and about to pull my arm out of the socket.

Finally a truck driver pulls up beside us and I point to the pick up. The truck driver gets Johnny’s attention and seeing the comforter, he immediately whips it over. Poor Josh climbs down and looks like a tornado survivor. He’d been up there about fifteen miles and said, “You can’t believe how close those overpasses are to the top of the trailer!”

Recalling that story it dawned on me how blessed I’ve been through the years to spend time with great people doing what I do. The friendships I’ve formed are priceless. These memories make me realize that none of these experiences are by accident. God works in ALL things – through good, bad and even funny times. All means all.

I don’t believe in living in the past, but I do think it’s important to reflect back and learn from our past. Too many of us live for the future without taking the time to enjoy what we have right now. As my mother often tells me about the time I spend with my sons, “You’re always making memories.”

God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.