Cool Down with the Top 15 WNFR Barrel Racers

2012 Cool Down with the Top 15 WNFR Barrel Racers

With all the excitement that the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo brings to the month of December, it’s also a good time of year for quiet reflection; a time to take inventory of the months past and where they have brought us in the present.

In this “Cool Down with the Top 15” we asked rodeo’s leading ladies about their greatest challenges and achievements in the past year, who and what inspires them, as well as tips for aspiring professional barrel racers who desire to follow in their footsteps.

Their advice and experiences are wide and varied, but all offer exceptional value to any barrel racer who has ever dreamed of blasting down the alley at the Thomas & Mack, or just wishes to take their barrel racing to the next level.

BRITTANY POZZI

Brittany Pozzi
Brittany Pozzi

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
My biggest challenge was the passing of my boyfriend Broc Cresta. This has been a huge life changing experience and will forever be part of my life.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
The most memorable moment was in Livermore, CA where Broc and I both won event buckles and our friends and family were there to cheer us on. My greatest achievement was coming into the finals in the lead and not rodeoing after Cheyenne.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Work hard and stay hooked! You might encounter tough times but they too shall pass.

MARY WALKER

Mary Walker
Mary Walker

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
My biggest challenge has been to be patient. Be very patient!

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
My great achievement was winning Cheyenne! It was so much fun and they treat you so good there.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
Martha Josey. She has always helped so many young kids and also has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. She has also broke her pelvis. She was one of the first to call and say I will be ok and that I would heal.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
One tip I would give is never purchase a horse that is more than your own riding ability.

CARLEE PIERCE

Carlee Pierce
Carlee Pierce

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
My biggest challenge this year was I didn’t have my 2nd and 3rd string horses quite ready when I sent Dillon home after RodeoHouston. So I really didn’t have a solid horse but it was ok at that point to bring out my 5 year olds and it really made the rest of my year more relaxed.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
My great achievement this year would be setting a new arena record at 2 very big rodeos on 2 different horses. One was on Hammer at the CFR and the other was at RodeoHouston on Dillon.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
My mom, she has always been a great horse woman. She has always been very successful with anything from cutting, to roping, to barrel racing. Once I was born she put everything on the back burner for me and because of her, I always try to be the best mom and wife.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
The best advice I ever received was from Tammy Fischer and that was to just worry about you and to compete with yourself and not to go out and try and compete with others.

SHERRY CERVI

Sherry Cervi
Sherry Cervi

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
I really had a pretty good year, it was a little slow at the start, but that is all part of it.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
My greatest achievement was winning Omaha. It was the last rodeo of the year so it felt good to finish strong and that my horse worked and felt good. It was definitely a highlight.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
My family, they have been there since I was little and throughout my career. My family and friends are a great support system; I appreciate them all so much.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Rodeo life isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Don’t forget to set goals and always keep striving for them.

NIKKI STEFFES

Nikki Steffes
Nikki Steffes

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
My biggest challenge was deciding on where to go and how many runs my horses could take. This was my first year of really going hard with having the main goal of making the NFR, but I had a lot of help along the way.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
My great achievement this year would definitely be making the NFR; there are so many other girls out there with great horses. I can’t say that is just my greatest achievement of 2012 I would say it is my greatest accomplishment ever!

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
My dad, he has helped me since I was little. He bought me my first barrel horse at 4 years old. He goes everywhere he can with me. He has always been there from Little Britches, to college rodeos and amateur rodeos. He has the biggest heart and has always gone above and beyond for me.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Find a great barrel racer or horseman that you really look up to and learn from them and never quit learning. Always ask for help whenever you need it.

KALEY BASS

Kaley Bass
Kaley Bass

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
The biggest challenge was when Cowboy got hurt at San Antonio, TX and it took a while for him to come back after his wreck and for him to start running like he used too.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
My most memorable experience was my big win at Dodge City. It was really cool to win as much as I did and then for me to go on in the next 2 weeks and win $25,000 really helped put me in a safe spot for the NFR but my win at Dodge City was really exciting.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
Alicia Stockton, she was my traveling partner this year and she was awesome. She was a big help to both me and my horses and she was really positive which helped me. I believe you have to feel confident in yourself in order to be confident in your horses and she really helped me with that.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Never give up!

BREDNA MAYS

Brenda Mays
Brenda Mays

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
The biggest challenge has been trying to make sure my horses are feeling fresh and good and not over doing them.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
I would say my greatest achievement would be making the NFR 6 years in a row. It is tough and just to make it is a great achievement in itself.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
I don’t have just one person, I would say everyone that has ever supported and believed in me!

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Never give up on your dreams and never stop believing in yourself, no matter what age you are if you want something bad enough you can achieve it!

LISA LOCKHART

LisaLockhart
Lisa Lockhart

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
I had a pretty good season so really my biggest challenge would be that I need to take time to step back and look at the little things in life and not take them for granted. Always look at the bigger picture. This is what we do, not who we are. It has changed my life and I am forever thankful.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
My greatest achievement this year would be winning my 3rd Canadian Championship.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
My husband Grady, without him and his encouragment and belief in me continually I wouldn’t be where I am today.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Always work hard and want it because it’s not easy; there are a lot of challenges out there and you have to be ready for anything that is thrown at you.

BENETTE BARRINGTON-LITTLE

Benette Barrington-Little
Benette Barrington-Little

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
My biggest challenge has been staying focus and positive there are so many ups and downs in rodeo, so staying positive can be a challenge.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
The greatest achievement of this year was winning the American Royal. It was really neat to win Kansas City, which is something you always here other people doing and it was really neat to win it.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
My Dad, from when I was little and growing up he always believed and had confidence in me no matter what I wanted to do and always said if you work hard you can do anything you want to do!

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Always have confidence in yourself. Do let outside factors change what you believe.

KELLI TOLBERT

Kelli Tolbert
Kelli Tolbert

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
Not to give up! This year I pulled lots of small checks. I did not have a good winter nor a great summer but in August things turned around and I get to make another trip to the WNFR since I kept pushing forward.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
The weekend I won both Strathmore, Alberta Canada and Great Falls, Montana. That was the weekend things turned around for me! It felt great!

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
My parents, they do not ride and are not into the horse industry, but they have a great work ethic and have always taught me to pursue my dreams and never give up because one day you will be successful.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Research where you run your horse and be business-like about it. Enter where you have a chance to win and where your horse will win. Don’t just enter to enter.

LEE ANN RUST

Lee Ann Rust
Lee Ann Rust

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
My biggest challenge has been perseverance. 2012 didn’t start out good at all. I had an accident at Denver that left an everlasting hoof print on the back of my leg and broke 2 ribs; then I went on to San Antonio and broke 4 more ribs so a total of 6 broken ribs but I never took my eye off of the prize. I came back at Guymon but I didn’t place and I really didn’t get started until May. I went to Calgary over the 4th instead of doing a Cowboy Christmas run and I just kept going. I did well at Nampa and Caldwell, then placed 2nd at Pendleton, which helped me hop into a spot for the NFR.

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
My greatest achievement this year was winning 2nd at Pendleton. That rodeo is like no other and it’s not really a rodeo it’s more of a show. It was just an experience, it was a Wow!

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
My Mother, Bo Dell Funderburgh. She is always very supportive always has advice that turns out to be true. But she always has positive advice for any situation and she always believes in. She has taught me to pay close attention to miner details with horses because they are always telling us something.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
You have to have mental discipline. From hauling, to competing, to horses and yourself you have to have discipline.

CHRISTINA RICHMAN

Christina Richman
Christina Richman

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
Making the finals! Every year I am shocked that I make it.

What personal quality do you have that contributes most to your success?
I always laugh and say I turn off my give a sh** attitude. I just go for it; I stay positive and am resilient to the negative.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
Not just one person. I watch a lot of people and pick the best out of all of them. My dad raises thoroughbreds so he had taught me a lot on how to take good care of a horse and he is really good with young horses which I believe has help me with starting my own.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Always take care of your horses and listen to their needs. Sometimes they are trying to tell you something and sometimes we don’t catch it if we don’t listen.

TRULA CHURCHILL

Trula Churchill
Trula Churchill

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
Making the WNFR in high on my list but also making the Canadian Finals is great to and doing them both in the same year is even better!

What personal quality do you have that contributes most to your success?
I believe that would be my determination.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
My grandpa, he was one of the original signers of the PRCA. He was also a World Champion.

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Don’t get down on yourself, always stay positive and focused!

CHRISTY LOFLIN

Christy Loflin
Christy Loflin

What has been your biggest challenge or lesson in 2012?
My lesson of 2012 is that I have learned that there are always extreme highs and lows; you always have to ride out the lows so you can get back to the highs. Always keep working at it!

What has been your greatest achievement or most memorable experience this year?
My greatest achievement of the year was winning 2nd at Cheyenne. It was really neat to have both my kids there cheering me on. I could hear my daughter screaming at me from the stands and my son was also excited for me. It was just great to have them both there. I had went in and made a great run and was winning it but I knew Mary (Walker) still had to run and that she was going to win it but it was still awesome.

Who has been your greatest influence and inspiration and why?
I have 2 people that have made huge impacts on my life. I have always admired Kelly Yates. She is so down to earth and such a nice, kind person even with all the stuff she has accomplished in her life. The other is Toni Hardin. She always does things the right way, she is just an amazing horse woman and has always helped me when I have had trouble and made me step back and do it right. (Both women are members of the WPRA)

If you could give one tip to aspiring professional barrel racers, what would it be?
Never, never, never, never, never, never, give up!

For more from the 2012 WNFR barrel racing qualifiers, check out “Five Pre-Run Rituals of the Top 15,” “Barrel Talk with 2012 WNFR Barrel Racing World Champion, Mary Walker,” and “2012 Warm Up with the Top 15 WNFR Barrel Racers.”
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*Special thanks to the WPRA (where the elite compete) for teaming up with BarrelRacingTips.com to bring you this “Warm Up with the Top 15!”

2 replies
  1. Helen
    Helen says:

    Thanks for all the awesome advice. It really helps someone like me who has been struggling for nine years trying to barrel race but have always either had personal or horse isssues get in the way. I will remember it forever. And someday maybe I get to meet you all in person and thank you.

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      You’re soooo welcome, Helen! Thanks so much for you kind words. I’m glad the content we provide is helpful, it’s my pleasure to bring it you! Keep up the great work and I’d love to meet in person some day!

      Reply

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