Spin to Win Rodeo - - Features - By Ken­dra San­tos

Trevor Brazile has out­worked all oth­ers to be­come the win­ningest cow­boy in his­tory. He’s taken that work ethic to his Re­lent­less line of boots and ap­parel with Ariat. by Ken­dra San­tos

Trevor Brazile is not the best be­cause he’s big­ger and stronger than ev­ery­body else. Brazile is the most ac­com­plished rodeo cow­boy of all time be­cause he’s out­worked all oth­ers, and re­fused to take no—or sec­ond best—for an an­swer. In a word, the win­ningest cow­boy of all time is Re­lent­less.

“It’s al­ways the lit­tle de­tails—the things that don’t get left out—that make you a cham­pion,” said the 23-time world ti­tlist and liv­ing leg­end. “That’s what Re­lent­less means to me. We’re com­bin­ing cow­boy know-how with the cut­ting-edge prod­uct in­no­va­tion Ariat has al­ways been known for. Re­lent­less jeans, shirts, and boots aren’t made to just tol­er­ate the cow­boy life­style—they’re built to en­hance the cow­boy life­style, and help cow­boys per­form and look their best.

“I get to ob­sess on the per­for­mance de­tails with a part­ner whose whole busi­ness is de­voted to mak­ing rid­ers bet­ter ath­letes. Re­lent­less is a spirit of ex­cel­lence, and I’m pretty proud of that. Good isn’t good enough. So far, this has been an amaz-

ing col­lab­o­ra­tion. And we’re just get­ting started. We build th­ese prod­ucts with the cow­boy in mind, and we want to make sure we al­ways have the next best thing.”

Trevor per­son­ally test drives Re­lent­less prod­ucts, so he has hands-on in­put, start to fin­ish.

“I got the very first pair of Ariat boots I ever wore at the NFR (Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo) one year, and I wore them ev­ery­day when I was home prac­tic­ing—rop­ing in the arena, get­ting wet at the wash rack, and walk­ing around on ce­ment and in deep sand all day,” said Brazile, who owns count­less cow­boy ver­sa­til­ity records, in­clud­ing the ul­ti­mate one with 13 world all-around crowns. “I took those boots ev­ery­where a cow­boy goes for a year, and

handed them back to Ariat at the fol­low­ing NFR.

“Qual­ity is crit­i­cal to me, and I put them to the test. You can tell from our ex­otic Re­lent­less line that you re­ally can have it all, be­cause they’re a great look­ing boot that I’ve trusted at the high­est level of com­pe­ti­tion—when world cham­pi­onships were on the line—and they out­last ev­ery­thing on the mar­ket.

“We went so far as to build a ma­chine that sim­u­lated a cow­boy with a boot on stick­ing his foot in and out of the stir­rup thou­sands of times a day. We gath­ered data, we tested that data, and we came up with the Ariat Dual Pro® out­sole, which in­cor­po­rates the best of both worlds— leather and rub­ber—so it fits what we do, and is func­tional and com­fort­able. We’re us­ing in­no­va­tion in the Re­lent­less line that isn’t just a first for Ariat—it’s a first in­dus­try­wide.”

The denim in Re­lent­less jeans has some “give” to it. Be­cause the ma­te­rial moves with cow­boys, they don’t have to sac­ri­fice fit, fash­ion, or com­fort.

“In the past, when cow­boys com­plained about not hav­ing enough room in their jeans to do their job, they just bought big­ger jeans,” Brazile ex­plained. “We no longer have to make that choice.”

Fab­rics used for Re­lent­less shirts also go way above and be­yond.

“Re­lent­less is the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced prod­uct Ariat of­fers, and us­ing the shirts as an ex­am­ple, it’s not only im­por­tant to a cow­boy to have fab­ric that’s mois­ture-wick­ing and wrin­kle-re­sis­tant,” Brazile noted. “We don’t stop there. I went to the der­ma­tol­o­gist four or five years ago, and learned the hard way that wear­ing just any long-sleeve shirt out in the sun is not enough. I had to have skin can­cer re­moved from my shoul­der. Re­lent­less shirts of­fer SPF pro­tec­tion also.”

Ariat re­cently joined forces with the World Se­ries of Team Rop­ing as the pop­u­lar, pow­er­house or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ti­tle spon­sor. Trevor—who has the rare dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing won event world ti­tles in tie-down rop­ing, steer rop­ing, and team rop­ing, in ad­di­tion to his un­par­al­leled all-around cham­pi­onships—was at press time ranked in the Top 15 in both the tie-down rop­ing and steer rop­ing. He and team rop­ing part­ner Pa­trick Smith, who won the world to­gether in 2010, were pulling out all the stops to make the NFR cut in that event this year, as well.

“I’ve started it, and I want to fin­ish it,” Brazile said. “I’ve al­ways looked at rodeo­ing as a sea­son. The first three quar­ters didn’t go com­pletely ac­cord­ing to plan across the board. But the game can be won in the fourth quar­ter. The only guys who get beat on the back­stretch are the ones who quit.”

De­spite his su­per­star­dom, Brazile is never sat­is­fied with the sta­tus quo in or out of the arena. And his self­less­ness re­ally is re­mark­able, given his best-ever suc­cess.

“The Re­lent­less line is not all about Trevor Brazile,” he said. “It’s about mak­ing cow­boys bet­ter ath­letes. I’m just a guy who’s pas­sion­ate about the best of ev­ery­thing, and Ariat has given me the free­dom to give them feed­back about what cow­boys re­ally want. I love that this line crosses over to cow­boys of all kinds—ev­ery kind of rodeo cow­boy, in­clud­ing timed-event cow­boys, bull rid­ers and bronc rid­ers; cut­ters, rein­ers, and even coun­try mu­sic stars, and cow­boy fans. The Re­lent­less brand is for ev­ery cow­boy who wants to look, feel, and per­form his best.

“All of this will out­live me. I know what cow­boys want and need, and I want

the best for this gen­er­a­tion of cow­boys and all those to come. There will come a day when I will no longer com­pete at the high­est level of the game, be­cause my body won’t be able to do that any­more. But they’ll never take away my mind­set, which is and al­ways will be Re­lent­less.”

Brazile first launched the Re­lent­less brand about a decade ago.

“The Re­lent­less brand was born out of a pas­sion for ex­cel­lence, and built on the ba­sis of my be­lief that cow­boys de­serve the best,” he said. “Mak­ing sure they get the best has be­come my sec­ond pas­sion, and that means a lot of at­ten­tion to de­tail, never set­tling, and al­ways striv­ing for more.

“I feel like I just won the round at a big rodeo or rop­ing when I see some­one wear­ing Re­lent­less prod­ucts. That they have the con­fi­dence in what we’re try­ing to do for cow­boys re­wards all the hours in the lab and look­ing over sketches, new fab­rics, and leathers. When it’s all said and done, I’d like to say I left things bet­ter for cow­boys than I found them.

“In any sport, con­fi­dence is prob­a­bly the hard­est thing to come by. I want cow­boys to be con­fi­dent in what they’re wear­ing, and that starts with me. I only put my brand on things I wear my­self, be­cause I know they’re the best. I want ev­ery other cow­boy to look and feel his best, too. I may not be the best at all things, but I feel like my ef­fort has been Re­lent­less in ev­ery area of life.”


Ryan Dirteater’s day job may be the most dan­ger­ous on the planet. The 29-year-old Chero­kee cow­boy, who hangs his hat in ru­ral Hul­bert, Ok­la­homa, rides bulls for a liv­ing. He’s headed to his 10th Pro­fes­sional Bull Rid­ers World Fi­nals—which he won in 2016 to cap a half-mil­lion-dol­lar year—in Las Ve­gas this fall.

Whether he’s busy earn­ing 93.25 cham­pi­onship points on D&H Cat­tle Com­pany’s no­to­ri­ous bull Bruiser, like he did at the PBR tour stop in Ok­la­homa City ear­lier this year, rid­ing on the ranch, or team rop­ing, Dirteater is all Re­lent­less all the time.

“Trevor’s the king of the cow­boys, and he de­signed the Re­lent­less line right— look good, feel good, per­form good,” Dirteater said. “No­body knows more about win­ning than Trevor, and he de­signed th­ese jeans, shirts, and boots right for com­pet­ing. I ride bulls in knee braces, so I’m not easy to fit. Th­ese jeans feel so good, I could hit the gym in them. They go per­fect with my Ariat ten­nis shoes. I al­ways wear Ariat, but I al­ways rope in Re­lent­less.”

That’s right, when his hand’s not in a bull rope on the back of a fire-breath­ing Brahma, the world-class bull rider loves to team rope. Dirteater’s a #6 header and a 7-plus heeler.

“I’ve roped since I started to walk,” he said. “I roped a lot be­fore I started rid­ing bulls. We were team rop­ing all the time, and when I was 11 or 12, I started rid­ing the rop­ing steers. That’s how my bull rid­ing ca­reer got started. Now rop­ing is my hobby, and I love it. We typ­i­cally rope twice a week, de­pend­ing on the weather.

“My dad (Randy), my buddy Matt Jones, and me put on team rop­ing jack­pots on the week­ends. They’re lit­tle, lo­cal jack­pots, and good warmups for the World Se­ries and USTRC rop­ings. Matt’s brother, Mike, and me qual­i­fied for the #12 and #13 rop­ings at the World Se­ries Fi­nale in Ve­gas in 2012. We didn’t win any­thing, but it was a fun ex­pe­ri­ence, and I want to go back. There’s not a big­ger, bet­ter team rop­ing than the

World Se­ries fi­nals. That’s where the big money’s at. It’s good, and it’s grow­ing. Now to be Re­lent­less about re­turn­ing to Ve­gas as more than a bull rider.”


Coun­try mu­sic sen­sa­tion Casey Don­a­hew wows crowds on a dif­fer­ent cow­boy stage than Brazile and Dirteater. But he has a whole lot more in com­mon with Trevor than be­ing a 41-year-old na­tive Texan and a supreme cow­boy suc­cess story. Don­a­hew, too, is Re­lent­less.

“The mu­sic busi­ness isn’t a tal­ent con­test,” said the name­sake of the pop­u­lar Casey Don­a­hew Band. “A lot of peo­ple have tal­ent. It’s the peo­ple who work harder than every­one else who make it. If it was a tal­ent con­test, we wouldn’t be here. We trav­eled fur­ther, longer, and on less sleep than they did to get our mu­sic out there. We were Re­lent­less.

“Some peo­ple who are crazy tal­ented don’t work hard enough to take it to the next level. That holds true across all sports, and it’s true in the mu­sic busi­ness, too. I talk to a lot of young peo­ple in my trav­els, and my best ad­vice to them is to out­work ev­ery­body else. If suc­cess was that easy, I’d just sell the for­mula and stay home.”

Yes, Don­a­hew shares Brazile’s work ethic and hu­mil­ity. He also shares a pas­sion for Brazile’s sport and life­style. Don­a­hew raises cat­tle on a ranch in West Texas, and team ropes in his spare time.

“Me and my bass player, Steve Stone, are go­ing to rope in the #8 rop­ing at the World Se­ries of Team Rop­ing Fi­nale in Ve­gas this De­cem­ber,” Don­a­hew said. “We’re both #4 rop­ers. I usu­ally heel, but Steve (who also owns the Buck­ing Horse Breed­ers As­so­ci­a­tion) doesn’t head. So I’ll be head­ing for him. I’m hop­ing to get to rope in the #9 rop­ing also.”

It’s been tough to find much time to rope around his hec­tic mu­sic sched­ule. But Don­a­hew and his wife and man­ager, Melinda, have two lit­tle boys who al­ready have the rop­ing bug.

“I see more horses, trucks, and trail­ers in my near fu­ture,” he said with a great, big grin. “Rodeo and coun­try mu­sic seem to in­ter­twine. The rodeo com­muni- ty is kind of our home base. We’re try­ing to keep it real for the real cow­boys out there. Re­lent­less keeps it real for me, on the ranch or out there on that stage.

“I don’t have any crazy dance moves, but I do like the way the Re­lent­less jeans move with you. They fit right and feel right—even a skinny guy with no butt, who has a hard time find­ing jeans that fit him. And the boots are the best. My worst fear is fall­ing on stage, and it’s never hap­pened, thanks to th­ese Re­lent­less Boots. They’re com­fort­able, they look cool, and they’re as func­tional on stage as they are in the saddle.”


Trevor Brazile could have played the celebrity card, signed his name to some boots and clothes, and col­lected the roy­al­ties. But be­ing av­er­age at any­thing is not in the Re­lent­less one’s DNA. Bra- zile works tire­lessly—hands on—be­hind the scenes and in the cut­ting-edge Ariat tech­nol­ogy lab to make sure his brand is the best, and stays out front in terms of com­fort, fit, style, and dura­bil­ity.

Brazile works closely with mem­bers of the Ariat de­sign team, both in the lab and in the field. Hollin Nor­wood is Ariat’s Di­rec­tor of De­sign on the footwear side.

“I’ve worked closely with Trevor on ev­ery piece of footwear that we’ve built for the Re­lent­less col­lec­tion,” Nor­wood said. “We wanted to bring him in for the en­tire de­sign process, which meant that we showed him mul­ti­ple rounds of sketches, all the way through color ren­der­ings of boots, sam­ple leathers, pro­to­types, and pat­tern tri­als—ev­ery­thing. “Trevor’s been the best at his game for a long time, and he ab­so­lutely ex­pects ev­ery­thing he’s as­so­ci­ated with to also be the best. That’s a pretty ex­cit­ing

space to be in as a de­signer. I’ve worked with a lot of dif­fer­ent folks—ath­letes, celebri­ties, and other in­dus­try VIPs—and work­ing with Trevor is re­ally the most re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. He’s com­mit­ted to a long-term plan of build­ing a brand that is syn­ony­mous with ex­cel­lence and per­for­mance, and his vi­sion is re­mark­able.”

Scott Molina serves as Ariat’s Men’s Western and Work Ap­parel Prod­uct Man­ager.

“Trevor and I have col­lab­o­rated on Re­lent­less Ap­parel since its in­cep­tion in 2017,” Molina said. “We wanted to cre­ate a line of ap­parel that was fo­cused on per­for­mance, so it re­ally started with how Trevor uses his ap­parel both in the arena when he’s com­pet­ing and also out­side the arena, when he’s work­ing out and do­ing all the things he does to pre­pare for com­pe­ti­tion. We had Trevor in both real-world and lab-based en­vi­ron­ments, where he was hooked up to heat, pres­sure, and mo­tion sen­sors, while also be­ing tracked on video. All of the data and in­for­ma­tion that came out of th­ese tests is re­ally what led to the de­sign and tech­nolo­gies that you see in Re­lent­less ap­parel to­day.

“Trevor pro­vides di­rec­tion and feed­back on ev­ery de­tail, in­clud­ing how he thinks cer­tain fab­rics might trans­late for the Re­lent­less cus­tomer. As just one ex­am­ple, Trevor once helped nav­i­gate away from us­ing a par­tic­u­lar fab­ric, be­cause he felt it would be a ‘hay mag­net’ for any­one spend­ing time around the barn or arena. He wants to be sure that we’re pro­vid­ing the fab­rics, de­sign, tech­nol­ogy, and func­tion­al­ity that’s go­ing to make a cow­boy’s life eas­ier and more com­fort­able, that also keeps him look­ing and per­form­ing his best. Trevor is al­ways com­pet­i­tive about hav­ing the lat­est and great­est tech­nolo­gies and fab­rics in the Re­lent­less line.”

Trevor’s fierce com­pet­i­tive side sur­prises no one. Un­der­stand­ably, his un­wa­ver­ing hu­mil­ity and un­yield­ing, non-stop work ethic sur­prise some at this stage of his game.

“It’s easy to for­get some­times when work­ing with Trevor that you’re talk­ing to a 23-time world cham­pion,” Molina said. “He’s so down to earth and ap­proach­able that it makes it in­cred­i­bly easy to strike up con­ver­sa­tions with him and run prod­uct ideas by him. In our quest to stay true to our cus­tomers’ needs and life­style, which Trevor shares, he helps sup­port cut­ting-edge in­no­va­tion, while mak­ing sure we main­tain our au­then­tic­ity and value. Who bet­ter to rep­re­sent cow­boys in Re­lent­less fash­ion than the Michael Jor­dan of Rodeo?”

Trevor Brazile is the win­ningest rodeo cow­boy of all time, and is never sat­is­fied with the sta­tus quo. He’s been in­volved in ev­ery de­tail of Ariat’s Re­lent­less line of jeans, shirts, and boots from the be­gin­ning, be­cause, “Qual­ify is crit­i­cal to me. It’s about mak­ing cow­boys bet­ter ath­letes. The Re­lent­less brand is for ev­ery cow­boy who wants to look, feel, and per­form his best.”

The Re­lent­less one never set­tles for less than his very best in any of life’s are­nas.

PBR bull rid­ing su­per­star Ryan Dirteater al­ways wears Ariat, but al­ways ropes in Re­lent­less.

Coun­try star Casey Don­a­hew has been Re­lent­less in his work ethic and com­mit­ment to au­then­tic cow­boy mu­sic.

Ariat’s Di­rec­tor of De­sign Hollin Nor­wood has worked closely with Brazile on Re­lent­less Boots since day one, and ad­mires the cow­boy icon’s un­yield­ing ded­i­ca­tion to de­tail and ex­cel­lence.

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