For professional barrel racer and NFR qualifier, Stevi Hillman, barrel racing may be a huge part of how she achieves her goals, but barrel racing achievements aren’t necessarily THE goal itself. In the Q&A interview below she’s shared numerous insights that will leave you motivated and inspired to go for yours as well!
Tell us about the horses you’ll be riding at the 2018Wrangler National Finals Rodeo?
Slick By Design will be my main mount at this years NFR. I don’t think he needs much introduction. He’s an eleven year old stallion who’s won well over $500,000 and is very familiar with the Thomas and Mack. I feel incredibly blessed to get to take him.
Luv My Fame, ‘Layla’ will go as a backup horse. She’s my six year old Dash Ta Fame mare. She is more green, but she’s super gritty and loves to turn. Nothing bothers her.
Guys R A Mystery, ‘Sherlock’ will go as grand entry horse and if I need him as another backup horse as well. He’s placed at pro rodeos and won multiple jackpots. He is a very consistent horse and makes the same run every time.
Do you think the Thomas & Mack environment will complement their running & turning style, or do you anticipate making any specific adjustments?
I feel confident going into Vegas with Slick already familiar with it and Layla will turn.
Do you have any specific goals or intentions for this year’s National Finals Rodeo?
My goal this year is to have fun and stay consistent.
Do you have a preferred bloodline, running style, body type, or personality you prefer and look for in your barrel horses?
When looking for younger horses, I do like one with some fire and heart. I like them to have a big soft, willing eye. And a big personality. I do like a bigger shoulder and hip on one, with a long underline. I also look for a long stride and make sure they reach forward not spending too much time in the air with their stride
What has been your biggest challenge or learning opportunity during the 2018 rodeo season?
Fighting white line disease with my good horse and trusting God at the beginning of the summer.
What motivates & inspires you to keep going and stay positive through all the ups and downs of rodeo life?
People… and their stories. I love to listen to people and their success and struggles. I also love seeing the kids and older people light up and push harder for their dreams.
Ty is very encouraging and knows how to put things into perspective for me. And my friends and family truly keep me going.
What products and therapies do you depend on most to keep your horses healthy, happy, sound and competitive?
I love my Equisagger horse massager. That keeps their muscles loose and feeling good on the road. I do love and believe in all the products I use. PHT Products, MVP Products keeping my horses immune systems up and good vitamins in their systems, FlexiNeb to keep lungs clear, EquiPulmin to keep them overall healthy.
What piece of tack or equipment is one you can’t live without?
Hmmm, I county obviously do it without any of it! Lol I love my saddles.
From a training perspective, what aspect of a horse’s development do you think is most critical to their success as a pro-level athlete?
I believe they must have a good willing mind, because sometimes we get in situations with rodeo where we count on our horse to be willing. They must be tough also, not just physically but mentally too.
That’s where I go back to they have to be willing and have a good mind, there are times we have to adjust to the situation and they situations are all different on the road. So they can’t freak out if it’s different or a change for them, they have to be willing to adjust.
I think it’s so important to have a solid and great foundation, so you always have something to go back to.
What do you think is the key to making the transition from a part-time amateur barrel racer to a full-time professional?
The hours and hours of dedication… lack of sleep and a complete change of a lifestyle. I think consistency is key.
If you could give one tip to a barrel racer with a goal to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo, what would it be?
Honestly, try hard, and then try harder… never give up on your goals. And to stay focused on you and your goals.
Can you share one of the most memorable moments or experiences from this year that really stands out?
Ponokas win this year was pretty darn special. After and in the middle of a battle of white line, he tried harder and gave me 110%. I broke down and was just so thankful. And another one is winning Caldwell again this year but on a different horse, that was really neat.
If there was one theme, or one message that your barrel racing journey stands for or represents that is a positive message to others, what would it be?
Trust God with all you have, because He has so much more for you in life than you could ever imagine. I hope I am an example of His love and mercy. My goal and #1 job in this life is to be His servant and help others.
If you could change anything about professional rodeo, that you feel would help ensure it can grow and be enjoyed for years to come, what would it be?
It’s a pretty good family as it is but I would encourage it to continue to grow as a family with everyone helping each other and to keep the Cowboy tradition in it.
What individuals or aspects of your support team have been absolutely crucial to your success?
Ty Hillman, my husband, who pushes me to be a better me all the time. And believes in me 100%. You’ve got to have a support system and a team, there’s no way this is possible without all of them.
Please share your sponsors or any people you’d like to give special recognition to:
Rock and Roll Denim
Rock and Roll Cowgirl
Hay Rite Alfalfa Cubes
K&N Equine Solutions
MVP Exceed 6-Way
Cody Cearley Bits and Spurs
5 Star Equine Products
Outlaw Equine Hospital
Prepare to Win TV
Mouton Sand and Gravel
Cowtown USA, Inc
Click here to learn more about becoming a member of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
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