When Rylee George found herself down to only one breakaway horse two years ago, she knew it was time to start looking.
The now 22-year-old from Oakdale, California, had goals of hitting the road harder and knew she needed something of higher caliber than what she had at the house.
“I decided I wanted to go rodeo some, and I knew I needed a horse to step up my game,” said George, a recent Texas A&M-Commerce grad. “And then one of our good friends found out that Wyatt [Imus] was selling Deputy, so we came out here and tried him. I got to ride him, and it was pretty much I rode him, and I knew. He was so easy and so fun. He pretty much did everything by himself.”
If the name ‘Deputy’ sounds familiar, it should. Deputy has kind of been there, done that. Everywhere. The 19-year-old sorrel gelding is famous for his tie-down roping career with the King of the Cowboys, Trevor Brazile.
“Pretty much everywhere I’ve went, there’s been at least one person that has asked me about him and just kind of wanted to know more about him,” George said. “Or I’ll see him tied up to the fence, and then I’ll see people kind of pointing and looking at him.”
Like, THE Deputy?
Brazile got his hands on Deputy, Fantaz Popularresort by Popular Resortfigure out of Fanta Lena, over a decade ago.
“I bought Deputy from Marty Miller, a calf horse trainer from Oklahoma,” Brazile said. “He was 5, and he had good timing. I bought him and his little sister and brother—5, 4 and 3 years old. The little brother ended up going on to Monty Lewis—his name was Squirrel, one of the best he ever had. The mare went to Joseph Parson, Marcos Costa and ended up at Monty’s house, too. And she was the dam of Relentless Glory and Relentless Big Shot—two horses we won with at the Futurities. Relentless Glory now stands at Select Genes and will have her own offspring in the arena. They all worked out.”
Deputy went on to make more NFR appearances with the 26x world champion than any other calf horse he has owned. And it was only fitting that Deputy and Brazile saw the bright lights of Vegas together one last time for Brazile’s last NFR appearance in 2018 en route to his 24th gold buckle, his 14th in the all-around.
Today, Deputy sees a similar, yet different, trip in the arena as a breakaway mount. It isn’t too surprising to Brazile that Deputy is excelling as a breakaway horse, given the talent he had as one of Brazile’s top calf horses back in the day.
“He scored exceptional, he could run and he had great timing,” Brazile said. “The real thing that makes him excel now in the breakaway roping, is that when you drop your hand, he ran just as fast as if you didn’t kick as if you did. As handy as that is, it makes you not have to ride as good. Jag was like that, but he couldn’t run as fast as Deputy. He was one of the top five calf horses I’ve ever had.”
Now spending his days as George’s first-string breakaway horse, Deputy still gets a lot of attention for his past life.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking at first knowing [who he came from], and then everybody saw him and was asking me if it was him,” George said. “So, I mean, there were kind of those nerves. Like, if I mess up, everybody knows it’s me, but it’s been good.”
Deputy the babysitter
If George was looking for a horse to step up her game, she found the right one. Being a part of Brazile’s arsenal meant Deputy had seen the sights, the biggest being the bright lights of Vegas.
“When we went and tried him and I rode him, it was just that I needed kind of a babysitter for myself because I hadn’t gone anywhere, and he’d been everywhere,” George explained. “So that really made it easy knowing that he was going to be the same no matter where we went.”
Since becoming George’s main mount, Deputy has helped her achieve some major goals. The pair took home the win at the 2022 Permit Finals in Waco, Texas, and just this year they claimed the NIRA Southern Region breakaway title. George’s natural ability paired with Deputy’s talent and years of experience make for an easy run.
“He’s so easy,” George said. “When you rope on him, you just have to worry about roping. You don’t have to worry about him not working or anything.”
But for some, 19 years of age becomes a concern. For George, it was less of an issue and more of a reminder to be aware. Deputy takes trips to the vet regularly—just to make sure he’s in peak performance condition—and is fed top of the line feed. If anything, Deputy’s been an easy keeper for George, despite his age.
“When we got him, we knew his days were numbered; we kind of knew that going into it even,” George said. “But we’ve gotten longer out of him than I thought we would get out of him.”
Deputy’s veteran status shows in how he settles in the box. For George, his statue-like composure in the box is a gamechanger.
“I’d say his biggest standout to me is when he backs in the box, he looks straight through the bridle reins; I mean, he isn’t moving,” George said. “He’ll sit there and score all day. And it doesn’t matter if it’s blaring loud, a building, it’s outside, or it’s the slack—he’s just the same in the box every time and just sits there and scores.”
Deputy and George head next to the College National Finals in Casper, Wyoming, June 11-17, 2023. Riding Deputy at the CNFR was a no-brainer for George.
“I just think he’s perfect for long scores or short setups,” George explained. “He can really run, or he’ll sit there and score. I mean, he reads the play better than any horse I’ve ever rode.”
The opportunity to ride and learn from Deputy has changed everything for George.
“It’s absolutely special,” George said. “He’s helped me step my game up, and then he’s the first kind of real-deal horse I’ve gotten to have. He’s really stepped up my roping.”