Trevor Brazile is an only child by birth. But he’s bonded with a bunch of honorary brothers and sisters along the way. Many of us consider the Cowboy King a sibling in some sense of the word, but no one more strongly and completely than Trevor’s adopted big sister Lari Dee Guy. Trevor and Lari Dee are a couple of gold-standard rodeo competitors. These two native Texans are also willing to step up in support of anything and anyone who’s working hard to elevate the sport that is their life. Both are bullish on what’s going on with the World Champions Rodeo Alliance. Here’s why…
Kendra Santos: We all know that Trevor’s a 24-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion who’s obliterated rodeo’s record books. And Lari Dee, I know you are as successful a cowgirl as has ever saddled a horse. But which of your countless achievements mean the most to you?
Lari Dee Guy: When I was rodeoing in the AJRA (American Junior Rodeo Association, where she first met Trevor) I won the breakaway roping title 11 straight times, from when I was 8 to 18, from 1980-1990. I was pretty proud of that. I thought it was pretty cool to win the Wildfire Ladies Open (an all-girl roping in Salado, Texas) both heading and heeling. The year I won the all-around and the breakaway at the WPRA (Women’s Professional Rodeo Association) Finals when I had vertigo was something that was really hard to do, so I appreciate that accomplishment a little extra also.
(Lari Dee’s never one to brag on herself, but I can’t go on here without mentioning that she also won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association breakaway roping championship while rodeoing for Vernon Junior College in 1991, returned with the reserve national title for Vernon in 1992, then struck again for a second college national title in 1993 while attending Texas Tech. Lari Dee’s won 14 WPRA world championships, including all-around, breakaway roping and team roping titles in both the heading and the heeling. And yes, that’s a rare feat along the lines of her cowboy counterpart Trevor, who owns gold buckles in the all-around, heading, tie-down roping and steer roping, and is also one of a handful of cowboys handy enough to have competed as both a header and a heeler at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.)
KS: Trevor, how’s semi-retirement treating you, and what are the happiest and hardest parts of this new chapter for you so far?
TB: I’m loving it. I’ve been on the hamster wheel (of the full-time rodeo trail) for 20 years. If you’re going to try to be a world champion, you’re going to be at the mercy of the system. Now, since I’ve stepped away from full-time rodeo, everything has changed. My rodeo season became basically February and March, including rodeos like Fort Worth, The American, (the WCRA’s $1 million Windy City Roundup in Chicago) and San Antonio. I almost got to stay in my regular rhythm, because everything I wanted to go to happened really fast and early in the year. Now that that’s over, I can try to stay sharp and work on developing horses for these big WCRA events. The big WCRA paydays happen every quarter, with a half-million-dollar semi-finals and a $1 million major. Even in semi-retirement, I have a great opportunity to get my rodeo fix between the big (PRCA) rodeos in February and March, then the WCRA majors.
KS: Lari Dee, you do a lot of teaching. How much roping talent do you see out there today?
LDG: More than ever. The opportunities they have nowadays have people excited, and the tools today—dummies, videos and everything else—are available literally at their fingertips. I do about 10 schools a year across the country, and have had some fun ones in places like Australia, Sweden and Hawaii. I’ve always felt it’s a job of mine to make it better for the girls of the next generation. When I grew up, roping wasn’t cool for girls. So I’ve always wanted to try to help change that.
KS: Do you ever wish you were 20 again?
LDG: Every day. It’s so cool we’re getting to do what we’re doing now. I wish this ball would have been rolling when I was 27 instead of 47, but that’s not the way it went. I’m just so happy to be a part of this progress, so the girls coming behind us have it better than we did.
TB: I don’t have any regrets. And I’d hate to give up my 21st-42nd years. I wouldn’t mind feeling 20 again, but a lot of stuff went right for me from 21-42, and I wouldn’t want to roll the dice on that all happening again.
KS: Describe your relationship for those who haven’t seen for themselves that the two of you are oftentimes inseparable.
LDG: We’ve been brother-and-sister close since Trevor (who’s five years younger and 42 now) was really young. We’ve partnered on a lot of horses over the years (including 13 2- and 3-year-olds never before touched by human hands right now), and we call on each other for advice on everything. Sometimes we’ll talk three or four times a day. Trevor is a little brother to me, and always has been. He always respected me as a girl roper, even back before it was cool for girls to rope.
TB: The easy answer is she’s my big sister, but it’s more dynamic than that. We ask each other questions all the time. It’s a two-way street, and just a really strong, shared mutual respect.
KS: What are you most proud of about each other?
LDG on TB: Just him as a human being. For as much as he’s ever won and accomplished—what Trevor’s done is amazing—I see him as a man of God, a family man and my friend. That’s way more cool than knowing him as a 24-time world champion.
TB on LDG: There are a lot of great horsemen in this world, but I still trust a horsewoman to do anything I need done to my horses when I’m not there. Lari Dee’s not just a breakaway roper or a team roper. She’s a great cowgirl, and her horsemanship is awesome.
KS: Lari Dee, your biological little brother, Tommy Guy, is an NFR tie-down roper. Does that impact your aspirations for the future of breakaway roping?
LDG: I’ve always been the biggest rodeo fan of all, and it is so cool for me to see the breakaway getting its due. It’s fast, it’s fun to watch, and so many girls out there are so good now. But to be clear, I don’t want anything to ever happen to the tie-down roping. That’s also a great event. It always has been and always will be. Every event in rodeo is great, and I’m glad we’re all working together to make the sport better for everyone in every event.
KS: Talk about how the two of you work together to make great horses.
LDG: It’s always been a great partnership. When we buy horses, I usually start them, then he applies some pressure. From there, we pass them back and forth until they’re finished. Then we either sell them or he rodeos on them. Basically, I put the foundation on them, then Trevor makes them great. And if they need a little time spent going back to the basics, he sends them home to me.
TB: We both appreciate good horse flesh, and we look for the same things in a good one. There may be slight variances, but Lari Dee can ride a horse after me, and I can ride one after her. We complement each other as partners.
KS: So many people look up to you. What do you tell them about the WCRA?
LDG: I tell them that the WCRA is the future of rodeo. And that I wish more people would get in on this. Nominating events (through the WCRA’s Virtual Rodeo Qualifier system) is such an easy thing to do. You’re already going to the rodeos and ropings. Why not earn WCRA points and earn the opportunity to compete at these WCRA majors, where $1 million is added at each one? A lot of people have a problem with change, but this is so simple and there’s no downside. It’s an amazing concept, and everybody’s welcome. A lot of women have husbands, children and full-time jobs. Now they don’t have to rodeo all year long to compete for a million dollars.
TB: It amazes me how many people are still on the fence about what’s going on here. It really shocks me, because cowboys have looked for this kind of opportunity that wasn’t just for the elite—an opportunity of this magnitude that’s equal for everybody. And yet some people don’t dig deep enough to figure out how easy it is to set yourself up every quarter for money that most people work their whole life to try and have. It’s a really great system. It fits the guy who’s going to the rodeos anyway, because each rodeo doesn’t just count once; it counts twice. So every dollar spent and every gallon of fuel goes further, and you can win more money without making more runs on your horse. A guy like me can nominate a few local events and have the same opportunity at getting to the semi finals as a guy who’s rodeoing full time. And back to the point about the addition of breakaway roping, the way I look at that is that the family got bigger. Breakaway roping getting more recognition does not diminish any of the other events, and everybody who’s the best at their trade deserves a big stage.
KS: Will you be competing at the WCRA Semi Finals, which is coming up May 15-19 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma (April 15 is the cutoff date for nominating qualifying events and earning points)?
LDG: Yes. I’ve been nominating a lot of events trying to get a bye beyond the preliminary rounds. People don’t have to do that, if they only want to nominate a few events, and that’s fine. I’m trying to earn enough points to get past the preliminaries. As the Semi Finals advances, the top 16 from the preliminary rounds will compete against the top 16 in points, and the top eight will then advance to the next $1 million major in Green Bay (the Titletown Stampede will be held June 1 at the Resch Center). A lot of people don’t realize that this thing pays good the whole time you’re advancing.
TB: Yes, I’m planning to be there. It’s a good chance at good money, and I’m hoping to be there in two events. I want to try and take my sponsors to the big stage in Green Bay, and the money that’s paid out at the Semi Finals—which is good money—is a bonus we should all be grateful for.
KS: Do you think the WCRA has a legitimate shot at making real progress for the sport?
LDG: Absolutely. And it’s so great that it doesn’t matter whether you rodeo full time or are a stay-at-home mom. It’s like in the WCRA you don’t have to rodeo all year long to get to go to the NFR. Every kind of competitor has the same chance, and that makes the WCRA unique.
TB: It already has made a difference in ways that people and organizations may not ever publicly admit. But I know that it’s made it better for cowboys, because organizations have had to step up their game. The mission statement I heard from the start from the WCRA is to make rodeo better, bottom line. They’ve already done that, and it’s helped other organizations pick up the pace. I can’t see that being a negative for this entire industry in any way.
KS: What frustrates you the most about rodeo today?
LDG: That it’s so overlooked. The talent it takes to do what we do is tremendous, and the money it takes to do it at the highest level is a tall order. Rodeo is one of the toughest sports there is out there to compete in. It’s hard on your body and your checkbook. It costs so much to rodeo. Then there’s all the driving. It takes a toll on you. It’s frustrating when people overlook how cool of a sport this is, and the passion we all share and put into it.
TB: We pride ourselves on being different, because we’re a family sport and unity is part of being a family. If there’s one thing that frustrates me about rodeo today it’s that some rodeos are adding double the money in some events than the others, or rodeos that are not adding equal money in the team roping. That looks like a recipe for division and failure to me. They shouldn’t add more money in the timed events, either. Our strength as a sport is that we’re rodeo, and that means every event. If we all look out for each other, we’ll all be better off for it.
KS: Describe your perfect rodeo world.
LDG: What the WCRA is doing is as perfect as it’s ever been. They’re giving back to the contestants, and giving every cowboy and cowgirl an equal opportunity to make good money. And you don’t have to rodeo full time to take advantage of what the WCRA has to offer.
TB: My perfect rodeo world would include less travel, more money and better timed-event cattle. There have been a lot of improvements made in rodeo, but generally speaking, timed-event stock has not been one of them. This is a professional sport, and more effort needs to go into giving everyone an equal shot at winning, so that who wins is based on skill and not luck.
KS: If you never run another one, you’ll both go down in rodeo history as legends and industry icons. In the final analysis, what would be the ultimate for you in terms of what you leave behind and how you’re remembered?
LDG: I want them to remember me for being a Christian, for giving back and for helping people along the way.
TB: I want people to know that I got to live out my passion, but that it never got in the way of everything that was truly important to me—my faith, my family and my word.