Holding down fifth position as we head to the Canadian Finals Rodeo with $25,017 in tow is Brooke Wills, of Kamloops BC. She will be bringing with her, Fames to Blame aka Famey (by Lions Share of Fame [DTF] out of a Frenchmans Guy mare) formerly owned by NFR Qualifier, Ivy Conrado. During the season she won Oldstoberfest, Nicola Valley, and Brooks Kinsmen Pro Rodeo.
Brooke started out in gymkhana and peewee barrel racing at amateur rodeos, which lead to Little Britches Rodeo, Junior and High school rodeo and then moved up the ranks in amateur rodeos. She began entering pro rodeos in 2011.
What quirks does your horse/horses have?
When it’s feeding time, Famey turns into a piranha and others horses around her may want to watch out. And I would not suggest letting a dog go in her pen or get too close to her, she’s not bluffing haha. She also yawns when you’re about to bridle her before a run, but other than that, she’s not too quirky.
Where did you purchase/find your horse?
I bought Famey from Ivy Conrado at the end of August of 2018 so I’ve had her just over a year. I can’t thank her enough for thinking of me to be Fameys person. She’s made a lot of dreams come true.
How would you describe your horses barrel racing style?
Famey is so gritty and has a heart of gold. She has a quick, wrappy style but also very sure footed. You can throw any kind of ground condition at her and she will go out there and make the same run. She goes where you tell her to go.
How have you and your main mount grown from last season?
Famey and I’s bond has grown so much in the last year. She’s really my kind of horse, I love one that will let me pamper and spoil them and I can tell she really likes me. She’s everything I would want in a horse.
What would you say is your horses weakness?
I don’t think she has any weaknesses, she’s a very brave and bold mare who will do anything you ask her too.
Did you ever almost give up with your main mount?
I did not, Famey and I won the first 7 rodeo runs I made on her so it was a match made in heaven.
With all the miles made, varying ground conditions, and expenses, what kept the CFR dream alive for you this year?
I was really fortunate to stay within the top 12 all year so I didn’t really experience a lot of lows. And knowing what kind of horse power I had underneath me really helped too, I wanted so badly to make the CFR because I knew she was more than capable. Sometimes it would be disappointing to know the ground had changed or you didn’t have a chance but I’d still try to make the best run I could for the situation that was handed to you.
What do you do to keep a sharp mental edge in the game of rodeo? How do you stay motivated throughout the season?
One thing that always helped me was just telling yourself, There’s always another rodeo. If I made a rider error or hit a barrel, it wasn’t a big deal because I knew there was more to go to, so learn from it and move on. Having a supportive family and friends is great too. I traveled with my sister, Lane, and Mariah Mannering and they both have good attitudes too so the rig was always very positive, that makes a huge difference. And Ivy Conrado was just a text away if i needed any help as well.
What does your feed program look like, keeping your horses in peak condition going down the road and even in the off season?
I bring up Renew Gold Senior from the states since you can’t get the senior in Canada. I mix that with some beet pulp, Platinum Performance Wellness and One a day from Sharpedge. She stays on that year round. And my family bales our own hay so I know she’s always getting a good quality grass/alfalfa mix.
What do you do to condition your horses leading up to the season, and what does your pre CFR routine consist of?
I’m fortunate I get to spend my winters in Arizona so when I come back to Canada for rodeo season, Famey is in shape and has ran at some rodeos so her wind is built up too. Right now she’s just getting some light exercise and then when it gets a little closer to the CFR she will go back to her normal exercise routine which consists of long trotting and loping in the field and some arena days as well because it’s good to mix in both.
What is an exercise you include in your routine to keep your horses working how you like them to that may help someone else?
I’m lucky I don’t have to really school Famey because she knows her job. But if I do anything I’ll just make sure she’s quickening her feet around a barrel and staying nice and round. I usually just do this at a walk or trot. Or I’ll set the barrels up in a line and just work on nice, even, perfect circles at a walk or trot. It’s nice and relaxing and your still accomplishing things.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been told regarding life, horses, rodeo or barrel racing?
Just go out and do the best you can do. It works for barrel racing and regular life whether it be a job, an interview or anything really, as long as you know you’ve done the best you can do, then you can’t be hard on yourself because you gave it an honest try.
What has been your most memorable run over the years?
I’ve been lucky to have so many great horses so It’s hard to narrow it down but If I have to choose, it would be from my family’s great horse Cactus. I ran him at the Merritt Pro rodeo in 2010 and he was 20 years old, tripped so hard at second, I think maybe even jerked the reins out of my hands, and still got me my first pro rodeo cheque. He’s incredible. My first runs on Famey were memorable too because it was the first time I’ve ever felt that kind of power underneath of me. Every run I get to make is so special.
What is your favourite barrel racing bloodline, and what do you look for in a prospect?
You can’t go wrong with a Lions Share of Fame. And Famey is out of a really good mare too so that’s super nice. And Frenchman’s Guy/ Dash ta Fame Bloodlines because they are so proven. My family has a couple Darkelly colts and I really like how they feel right now. I think mare power is huge too. They get a lot of their dams heart I believe. I like to look for natural athleticism in a prospect and a nice kind eye.
What is the one thing you cannot live without on the road?
I can definitely live without it but I do have a weakness for Twizzlers. I’m sure they’re terrible for you but I like to munch on them when I’m driving.
If you could make a run on any one of the other CFR qualifiers horses which one would you choose and why?
If I could make a run on another CFR horse it would be Latte of Mary Walkers. How could you not want to run a World Champion.
Who is your barrel racing idol?
I would have to say Lisa Lockhart and Sherry Cervi. There is so much wisdom and great horses between those two.
What would you be doing if you were not barrel racing/rodeoing?
I can’t see myself not being involved with horses so that’s hard to answer haha. Maybe go to school for something or help with my dads company.
Favourite podcast to listen to on the road?
Racers Edge is a good podcast and Serial and Dirty John are classics too. I just started listening to Girl, Wash your face, on audiobook and that’s been good as well.
Thank you to FinningCat for their sponsorship this year and Sharpedge for their new sponsorship recently. I have a wonderful family, friends and boyfriend that makes rodeoing fun and easy. And thank you to the Pugh Family for giving us a great place to stay this summer. And the biggest thanks to my horse because I couldn’t have done it without her.
*photo submitted by Brooke