EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the September edition of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA.
When Brittany Pozzi rode Dial It Fast during the Ram Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo in Waco, Texas, this past January, Trevor Brazile saw something he liked in the horse.
“I’d like to head some steers on that horse,” he told his wife, Shada.
That comes with the territory by being married to a 16-time world champion who owns nine all-around gold buckles and has won other titles in tie-down roping (three), steer roping (three) and team roping-heading (one).
“I’ve always taken Trevor’s third-string calf horse or head horse and played with him,” said Shada Brazile of Decatur, Texas.
Oh, how things have changed, and the Texas cowgirl is reaping the rewards that are coming from the 6-year-old bay gelding she calls Dial It, out of Dial It In out of Dashin Is Easy. Brazile is focusing her attention on the WPRA Qualifying Tour, and it seems to be paying nice dividends.
From the end of July through the middle of August, Brazile placed in three qualifying tour events: Lawton, Okla.; Gerry, N.Y.; and Longview, Wash. The hope is to be part of the field for the 2013 Calgary (Alberta) Stampede while also getting her horse seasoned and her qualification rankings up for next season.
“I get an opportunity to go to rodeos I’ve never been to,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go to ProRodeos in New York, and I did it.”
Yes, she did, and she earned an $846 check for finishing third, riding Dial It around the cloverleaf pattern in 15.57 seconds, just 23/100s behind winner Nickie Stolzfus of McClure, Pa., and just a flash behind runner-up Taylor Young of Carlisle, Pa.
She also won $901 for finishing eighth in Lawton and $1,040 for placing second in Longview, just 5/100ths of a second behind winner Kathy Grimes of Medical Lake, Wash. Now Brazile is second in the qualifying tour standings and is just itching to do more than watch the Calgary Stampede.
“I’ve been going to that rodeo for I don’t know how many years,” Brazile said. “We love Calgary, because it’s family time. It’s a laid-back atmosphere. You go to the rodeo during the day, then you have the rest of the evening to spend with everyone.
“It’s almost turned into a family reunion with my brothers, Clif and Tuf, and my uncle, Stran (Smith), all competing there. My grandparents come out. Just a big part of my family comes to Calgary.”
So how did she keep Trevor from backing Dial It into the roping box?
“That horse came out of the futurities, and Latrica Duke trained him,” Shada Brazile said. “The circuit finals was the first rodeo he’d been to. Then Brittany stayed at our house during Fort Worth. I had two horses die within two days of each other.”
When Pozzi offered Dial It as a solution, Brazile initially wasn’t interested and tried not to think about it; the offer was almost too tempting.
“Brittany told me, ‘I’ll let you ride him,’ ” Brazile said. “I rode him and fell in love with him.”
The love affair has blossomed over the months since that first ride.
“I went into the year just planning on seasoning him,” she said. “He hadn’t been to any outdoor rodeos, just the futurities. Now maybe we can be in a little better position to get in the top 50 (in the final 2012 world standings) for the winter rodeos next season.
“With him just being 6, he’s come up and down. He’ll be good one week, then not so good the next. The last couple weeks, he’s peaked. I’ve been switching headgear, and I think I’ve found the right one. Hopefully it’ll stay good.”
Sometimes it takes a little carrot dangling from a stick to serve as motivation. For Brazile, it comes in the form of the Calgary Stampede and the tour that will help cowgirls qualify for “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”
“I’m excited to just have the opportunity to qualify for Calgary,” Brazile said. “Dial It is definitely a gift from God, and I feel blessed to own him.”
HORSEPOWER ON THE RODEO TRAIL
There are a lot of great horses on the rodeo trail, and Kaley Bass of Kissimmee, Fla., has one in Wonder’s Cowboy Dan. The two have lit the barrel racing world in August, including qualifying tour wins in Lawton and Lovington, N.M. Bass won the Lawton Rangers Rodeo with a 17.29 and earned $4,003; the Lea County Fair and Rodeo title paid $3,927. Bass is No. 1 on the qualifying tour.
Kelli Tolbert, a 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Hooper, Utah, won the biggest payday of the qualifying tour when she earned the title in Strathmore, Alberta. She and RF Firefly rounded the pattern in 17.383 seconds to win $6,768. As of Aug. 17, Tolbert was 13th in the WPRA ProRodeo Standings.
“That was a pretty critical win for me,” Tolbert said. “That was a lot of money, and I was in a situation in the standings where it was do-or-die time. I took a big, deep breath after it had happened.”
Moving to No. 4 in the qualifying tour standings was a nice bonus.
“I’ve been going to the qualifying events, but inadvertently,” she said. “I wasn’t entering Strathmore because it was a qualifier, but because it added so much money.”
It was even nicer that Cloe continued a strong season of quality runs in Alberta. Now Tolbert and the 9-year-old sorrel mare by PESI Stallion Smoke N Sparks out of Dots Scooterette are closing in on their second trip to the NFR in three years.
“Making the NFR was a goal from the get-go,” Tolbert said. “It’s been a year that’s been full of struggles. She’s working good. She’s sound. I was just getting up at rodeos at the wrong times. I would end up getting an eight-place check.
“During the summer, I was getting a lot of little checks. At the same time, I knew she was working good. I knew it was just a matter of time until I got up right and could make it work.”
Stolzfus hasn’t tried to rodeo quite that hard. In fact, she’s quite content to just do well in the First Frontier Circuit. That’s why the win in Gerry was so big to her.
“It was a great feeling,” said Stolzfus, who rode Wild Alice, a 15-year-old sorrel mare out of Saucy Oh by Check The Charts. “We’ve gone there for several years now. I’ve placed and I’ve won second, but this was the first time I’d won it.
“It’s especially important with it being part of the qualifying tour, even though we’re just weekend warriors out here on the East Coast. To win that rodeo was very rewarding. The committee’s wonderful. They keep the ground really nice, and it’s a family oriented rodeo.”
Family is a big part of what drives Stolzfus, who said her daughter, Karly, has been riding Allie in competition more than she has.
“I’ve only been to 12 rodeos this year because we’ve been hauling our daughter more,” Nickie Stolzfus said. “I’m just trying to qualify for our circuit finals. It would mean a lot to be able to try to get to more of those tour rodeos, but I’m a school teacher and a mother.”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Karly and Allie are doing some awesome work together in the arena.
“I’ve had the mare since she was 3,” Nickie Stolzfus said. “She is very quirky outside the arena. She’s always bucking and playing, but when you take her in the arena or run her down the alleyway, she’s all business. But outside the arena, she’s full of it. Everybody knows to stay away from her. I warm her up by herself with not anybody else around.
“She’s very interesting. She’s actually better for Karly. When Karly gets on her, the mare won’t do anything.”
Grimes may live across the country from the Stolzfuses, but she knows what it’s like to handle a feisty mare. That’s why it’s always nice to win an event like Longview on Winning Gold Chex, a 9-year-old buckskin mare by Extra Dry Chex out of Jodalito Cielo.
“It’s always good to win anything, and that one’s in our circuit,” Grimes said. “Hopefully I can get qualified for our circuit finals, but it’s also on the Calgary tour, so that was kind of neat, too.”
It was just the first qualifying tour event in which she has competed, but she planned to run Josie in Plains, Mont., which was scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
“I’m thinking about going to the WPRA Finals and try it there,” Grimes said.
Grimes owns Jodalito Ceilo, but what is it like to ride an animal she raised?
“She’s just dependable, and you always know what she’s going to do,” Grimes said of Josie. “She always wants to turn.
“She is pretty naughty in the warm-up pen. She can be a little bit of a challenge, but she does it every time. Sometimes the naughtier she is, the better she runs.”
That’s when a bad girl turns into a good girl in a heartbeat, and it’s well worth the ride.