Headed to the National Finals Rodeo in the number twelve position is Tillar Murray, hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, after 91 rodeos and $86,019.79 won. She will be bringing three sorrels with her; Dirty Dan Stinson (“Dirty Dan” by Eddie Stinson out of a Easy Lano mare, 6 years old), Lil Gracie’s Dude (“Tic Tac” by Smart Lil Crimson out of a Buster Welch mare, 17 years old), and Royal Star Commander (“Commander” by AR Star and a Royal Go Go mare, 9 years old) with her to Vegas.
What are your main mounts quirks?
All three have pretty different styles. Although Dirty Dan tends to be really ratey, he has only competed in a handful of small arenas and tends to be a little freer running when he runs consecutively in the same pen. Commander is pretty unpredictable and can be really spooky so the Thomas and Mack may be a little overwhelming for him, but he is so fast that he makes up for his mistakes. Tic Tac is by far my most consistent horse and the one I have known for the longest. I have had Tic Tac since middle school so I have had many experiences running him in all types of pens and different set ups.
What was your favorite rodeo this year and why?
Helldorado Days in Las Vegas – it was my first rodeo win of the season and one of my very first rodeos to compete in on Dirty Dan. It was after that win I really knew he was special.
What has been the best advice you’ve been given regarding barrel racing or rodeo?
Every person goes through difficult and losing times. It is not how quickly you get through the hard times but what you learn from the hard times. Keep working hard in the down times and prepare yourself to do your best when the opportunities arise and the good times come around.
If you were just starting out now, who would you train under, what clinics would you be taking? Who do your morals line up with?
I have trained with the Wright family for over 10 years now. There is nobody else that I would rather train with. I thought the world of Ed Wright and think the same of Martha Wright. I love how Martha puts so much focus on horsemanship and always puts the horses first. Martha never pushes a horse too fast or takes a chance of jeopardizing the horse’s long term well being, which is so important to me and I have come to fully appreciate. I feel so fortunate to have had the Wright family alongside me every step of the way for so many years.
With all the miles made, what kept the WNFR dream alive for you?
The little, stubborn, persistent kid in me that has been dreaming about running down the Thomas & Mack for as long as I can remember.
We all know that being competitive takes mental strength. What do you do to keep a sharp mental edge in the game of rodeo? Do you do anything before a run to keep your nerves in check?
Ed Wright always used to tell me it’s just you and the horse and nothing anyone else says or does matters. It was such a simple statement I didn’t really fully understand when he said it and probably still do not fully practice. However, each time before I go in I just try to think of it as another practice run. Each run I just focus on helping my horse and preparing him for the next run. I’ve found that when I make each run more about my horse and less about me, it takes the pressure off of trying to win.
Under your program, what do you do when a horse feels off to you? Who/what therapies do you include in your program?
If I am on the road, I start by using my equivibe blanket, icing their legs, and lasering them. If they still do not feel their best, I take them to our vet or chiropractor, depending on the issue.
When shopping, what areas of conformation turn you off? What points of confirmation do your prospects absolutely must have?
Honestly, I just ask Martha Wright. I do not know near enough about conformation to make a judgment I would trust.
Photos submitted by Tillar*