Headed to her second consecutive Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, in second position is Stevi Hillman of Weatherford, Texas, who won $185,952.39 this year after running at 96 rodeos. She beat her seasonal earnings from last year by $81,310, after running at the exact same amount of rodeos. Hillman is headed to the finals $64,426 behind the number one cowgirl, Tiany Schuster, and is ahead of number three cowgirl Nellie Miller by $55,416.
Stevi will be bringing Cuatro Fame, aka. Truck, a bay gelding who is by Dash Ta Fame and out of a Streakin Six mare, and the five year old sensation, MCM Imasharpguy aka. Sharpie, a grey gelding by A Sharp Frenchman, and out of a Martha Six Moons mare, who has had everyone watching closely all year.
What kind of quirks do your horses have?
Sharpie is so funny, he’s super confident in himself and more on the cocky side, and can be a jerk often. People think bc he has the cutest head and big eyes, he’s all cute and sweet lol but little do they know, he can be a handful. Truck is a big puppy dog so that makes him a handful as well. He tends to get in your space too much and doesn’t realize how big he is. They are a lot of work together!
We got to talk about Truck last year, so tell us about Sharpie, how would you describe his style?
His style is really challenging to ride. He is so quick on his feet and can go full throttle and stop without warning. You really have to ride the outside stirrup and his neck when running. He gets flat in his ribs often. So I have to really be sharp and on point as his jockey.
Tell us how it feels to have won Cheyenne with the fastest time of the rodeo (17.33) and to hold the new arena record in Fort Worth, but accomplished on Sharpie!
Winning Cheyenne was a dream come true, what a rodeo to win and on a 5 year old.. it was an amazing unforgettable moment for sure. To hold the arena record at Fort Worth Stockyards is pretty cool, that rodeo is so old with history and millions of horses run there, so what an honor to now hold that record. He just amazes me!
What was your favorite rodeo this year and why?
I would have to say Calgary, because the tradition there is so cool. It is so different and they take such great are of you and treat you wonderful. And because I’ve always wanted to run there.
It’s a toss up with winning Cheyenne also, because Cheyenne, is Cheyenne lol
What has been the best advice you’ve been given regarding barrel racing or rodeo?
To remember it’s an endurance race and to focus on one run at a time, and remember that rodeo, and barrel racing do not define who you are, it’s what you do. If you don’t win , you friends and family at home still love you and life still goes on.
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?
Ashley Schafer, I just look up to her as a horse woman and an awesome woman of God. I love her training style and her lifestyle, meaning… it’s obvious what’s important to her
If I were just starting out, I would do what I did and ride under as many people as I could to get better at horsemanship, cutters, reiners, etc. I truly believe that helped me more than anything.
With all the miles made, what kept the WNFR dream alive for you?
Changing lives… and knowing this is right where God has me for not only one purpose. And having a passion for what I do helps keep it alive for sure.
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?
Ty has helped me through the years develops my mental strategies, which differ on different horses. But my job as the jockey is to stay focused on what I do have control over. Letting my mind get outside of that can cause stress. I watch and listen to certain videos for me. Being confidence in yourself is key, and confidence not pride.
I don’t get nervous anymore, I’ll get anxious sometimes, just because I’m ready and excited to make a run lol but breathing is important and keeping your mind in check with what your focus is.
Sometimes I just need to laugh and relax and not get too intense.
Under your program, what do you do when a horse feels off to you? Who/what therapies do you include in your program?
I never ignore an ‘off’ feeling, it is so very important to know what’s normal and not normal with your horse. Be so I tuned with them, that you know when something isn’t right. I usually go straight to Josh at Outlaw Equine first, obviously depending on what is ‘off’.
When shopping, what areas of conformation turn you off? What points of conformation do your prospects absolutely must have?
I personally don’t like a short compact horse, and a short stride. I don’t like one that doesn’t cinch deep. I really like a long underline and one that will reach and stride out. Im big on their eye, gotta have a good eye. And…You can’t measure their heart but that’s probably the #1 thing they have to have, is ‘try’ and a big heart.
What would you like to see be done in the industry to better rodeo as a sport?
I love how it feels like a big family. But like any other sport or organization, there are always things that can be improved.
I would love to see ambitious and passionate people about our industry, in the higher seats. Not saying they aren’t, but I pray that for our industry often. People that truly care about it and not just the money.
Photos submitted by Stevi*