Looking Back on Rodeo Road with the 2018 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

2017 NFR Barrel Racers

Now that we’re several days in to the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – I bet you’re more than inspired to give your best effort to your own barrel racing goals in the new year!

If you’re wondering what it really takes to make NFR dreams more than just dreams, there’s no one better to ask then the gals to who have been there, won that.

In today’s collection of Q&A’s, the top 15 NFR barrel racers share their greatest challenges and biggest lessons from the 2018 season, plus insights for overcoming adversity, as well as what they’re most grateful for.

You’re sure to gain some valuable wisdom to apply to your own barrel racing journey!

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Hailey Kinsel
Hailey Kinsel

#1 HAILEY KINSEL
2018 Earnings: $192,834
Hometown: Cotulla, TX
Horses: DM Sissy Hayday “Sister” – 7-year old palomino mare
Thunder Stones “TJ” – 14-year old gelding

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? So many, but one I will mention is losing Sister’s half sister one week after The American in 2017. Sometimes your lowest lows bring the potential for your highest highs.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? Gymnastics

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? My faith and family, and the knowledge that this life and these opportunities are not guaranteed, so I have to enjoy them.

What are you most thankful for? The unconditional love from my God, family, boyfriend, and friends, and the ability to spend every day on a horse.

Sponsors: Classic Equine, Cinch, Purina, Platinum Performance, Yeti, 12 Gauge Ranch, Capital Farm Credit-Agri Insurance, P&P Trailer Sales, Bloomer Trailers
—————————————————————————————————————————————

Nellie Miller
Nellie Miller

#2 NELLIE MILLER
2018 Earnings: $146,826
Hometown: Cottonwood, CA
Horses: Rafter W Minnie Reba “Sister” – 10-year old blue roan mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? Trying to decide what is right for my horse is always a challenge and we are constantly thinking her best interest but unfortunately she cant talk so trying to figure out what is best takes a lot of thought and sometimes you get it wrong.

What life lesson did you learn? Rodeo is so unpredictable so I have learned that you just have to roll with things if they don’t quite go your way.

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? My most life changing moment was having children. They definitely changed my perspective on life.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in?

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? My children for sure, they have a way of bringing me back to reality.

What are you most thankful for? I am very thankful for my family and the horse that got me in this position.

Sponsors: Platinum Trailers, Corral Boots, Wrangler, Equithrive, Total Equine, Haleakala Walnuts
—————————————————————————————————————————————

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi

#3 BRITTANY POZZI TONOZZI
2018 Earnings: $137,267
Hometown: Victoria, TX
Horses: Steele Magnolias “Steeley” – 11-year-old mare
Yeah Hes Firen “Duke” – 15-year old palomino gelding
Babe On The Chase “Birdie” – 7-year old mare
KissKiss BangBang “Mona” – 8-year old mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? I think my biggest obstacle this year was the weather, There was about 5 rodeos that I ran over the 4th that I had no chance at because of the weather. It was hard to swallow because I had such a good fourth the year before.

What life lesson did you learn? I learned that their are a lot of things out of our control and you just have to go with the flow.

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? I have endured many life changing moments…. some good, some bad, and ones that I thought I would never come back from and I have learned to grow from those and to take nothing for granted and to enjoy the small things in life.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? I played golf in high school and was decent but never went any further with it because it took to much time away from the horses.

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? I would say my husband is my rock. He is always there for me.

What are you most thankful for? I am most thankful for my family and the fact that I get to do what I love everyday of my life.

Sponsors: Roper, Tanner Equine, Purina Feeds, Professionals Choice, Oxgen, Manzanola Feeds, RPM Swabbing, MGM Grand
—————————————————————————————————————————————

Lisa Lockhart
Lisa Lockhart

#4 LISA LOCKHART
2018 Earnings: $123,515
Hometown: Wolf Point, MT
Horses: An Oakie With Cash “Louie” – 15-year old buckskin gelding
Rosas Cantina CC “Rosa” – 8-year old buckskin mare (goes to the left barrel first)

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? Yes, everyday has its challenges, and I’ve learned to take things in stride a lot better over the years.

What life lesson did you learn? Every day is a new day!

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? Having three wonderful kids

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? NASCAR

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? Grady is my rock. Life is a roller coaster & you need to be along for the WHOLE ride.

What are you most thankful for? I am most thankful for my wonderful family, and rodeoing as a family!

Sponsors: Priefert Ranch and Rodeo, Polaris RANGER, Platinum Performance, B Bar Heart Performance Horses, Martin Saddlery, Classic Equine, DeTye Vet Supply, Woody’s Performance Horse Feeds, Cowgirl Tuff, Rodeo Rigs, Outback Customs
—————————————————————————————————————————————

Stevi Hillman
Stevi Hillman

#5 STEVI HILLMAN
2018 Earnings: $110,232
Hometown: Weatherford, TX
Horses: Cuatro Fame “Cuatro or Truck” – 11-year old gelding
Slick by Design “Slick” – 11-year old black stallion
Luv My Fame “Layla” – 6-year old mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? Truck not being sound when we were ready to leave for Reno, and two weeks later with him being sound, leaving and trusting. My faith grew incredibly.

What life lesson did you learn?

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? A lot! I feel like every year a person grows so much and learns so much, how can it not be ‘life changing’ in some way. Lots of good and lots of bad, but it makes us who we are.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? To never limit what God can do and to have a greater faith in the process no matter what it may look like at the present moment.

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? My faith and my relationship with God. And my friends and family for sure, they are there for me always and believe in me, yet remind me where I came from and why I do this.

What are you most thankful for? Getting the opportunity to ride such a nice horse like Slick. Truck unexpectedly came up on the injured list and I am so grateful to have Slick. Also am incredibly thankful for my entire support team. I couldn’t do any of this without all of you! Including all the horse owners, our sponsors, friends and family… so many people help and encourage us, we thank you!

Sponsors: Rock And Roll Denim, Panhandle, HayRite, K&N Equine Solutions, Shiloh Saddlery, MVP, Cody Cearley Bits And Spurs, Team PHT, Nutrena, 5 Star Equine Products, Flair Strip, Equipulmin, FlexiNeb, Outlaw Equine, PrepareToWinTV, Mouton Sand And Gravel, Dunn Ranch, Cowtown USA inc, Merhow Trailers

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Taci Bettis
Taci Bettis

#6 TACI BETTIS
2018 Earnings: $$103,692
Hometown: Round Top, TX
Horses: Bogie Is A Smash “Smash” – 10-year old gelding
Traffic Guy Shine “Shiner” – 5-year old mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? The mental game is the biggest challenge for me.

What life lesson did you learn? I worked hard this year on getting more focus on the task at hand and not let myself get psyched out.

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? I wouldn’t necessarily narrow it down to one moment but would rather say my rodeo career has been a life changing experience as a whole.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? I enjoy playing recreational softball when I can and the occasional basketball or sand volleyball game with my friends.

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? Smash on his cold weather days!

What are you most thankful for? Being able to live this dream.

Sponsors: Classic Equine, Oxy-gen, Cinch Jeans, Purina, Shefit apparel, K&N equine solutions, Mirage Rodeo Vegas, Resistol, Round Top Farm and Ranch Supply
—————————————————————————————————————————————

Kylie Weast
Kylie Weast

#7 KYLIE WEAST
2018 Earnings: $107,715
Hometown: Comanche, OK
Horses: Hell On The Red “Reddy” – 6-year old mare
Namgis D 15 – 9-year old gelding

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? I guess my biggest challenge isn’t just on the rodeo trail. I have to have a plan for everything, so when the plan doesn’t go accordingly, I get flustered. My husband is helping me out a lot in this department. But with my mom being out there with me, and having done it all for herself, and with my sister, Janae, it took some worry away. The only way I know how to overcome a challenge other than working to better myself, is to pray about it. If I have an instance of worry or frustration, I pray.

What life lesson did you learn? To be more patient.

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? Two actually – The day I married my husband, Jay and the day my son, Marcus was born.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? I was a decent point guard back in the day.

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? My mom and little boy, Marcus. My mom can see if I’m wavering one direction or the other, and she knows how to get me to where I need to be mentally. And geez, Marcus is just a blessing. Being a mom on the road with a 1 year old is humbling enough.

What are you most thankful for? My family – they have been over the top supportive. From my mom going with me all year, to my husband at home, working his rear off, seeing the big picture and telling me, “If you don’t enter, you don’t have a chance to win,” to my sisters Janae and Cassie who helped with my futurity colts and kept things going while I wasn’t home, to my grandparents, Dale and Florence Youree who have allowed me to campaign their great mare.

Sponsors: Youree Ward Barrel Horses, Oxy-Gen, PHT, Tres Rios Silver, Namgis Quarter Horses, M Sport 6, Schneider Performance Pads, EAC Inc., Deanna Harrison’s Essential Oils
—————————————————————————————————————————————

Jessica Routier
Jessica Routier

#8 JESSICA ROUTIER
2018 Earnings: $98,704
Hometown: Buffalo, SD
Horses: Fiery Miss West “Missy” – 7-year old palomino mare
Especials Smoothie “Smoothie” – 23–year old sorrel mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? My greatest challenge is always trying to divide time between family and horses. A lot of times it feels like, if you are taking care of your horses like you should, your family isn’t getting enough time and attention, and vice versa. But with the help with a lot of friends and other family members, my kids were all taken care of. Some weeks we were all together and some we weren’t but for the most part everyone got the attention they needed, and at the end of the day everyone was happy.

What life lesson did you learn? Life is short, and it is so important to just enjoy one day at a time.

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? Not really.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? I couldn’t imagine making a living playing any other sport… and rodeo is one of the few where being 5’1’’ doesn’t put you at a disadvantage, so I think I’ll just stick to it. When I was younger, however, I spent 9 years doing gymnastics. I loved it, and never realized until many years after I quit how much muscle strength it took.

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? My family keeps me the most grounded and humble. No matter what happens on any given day at a rodeo, I always have so much to be thankful for.

What are you most thankful for? There are so many people that help me go down the road- from helping with my kids, and taking care of things at home, to helping me find places to stay while on the road or giving me advice about rodeos I’ve never been to. I am very thankful for all of them!

Sponsors: Dakota Western Bank, Westergren Quarter Horses, Cowgirl Tuff Company, 5 Star Equine Products, Zesterra, Silver Lining Herbs, Thunderbird Brand

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Ivy Conrado
Ivy Conrado

#9 IVY CONRADO
2018 Earnings: $98,385
Hometown: Hudson, CO
Horses: KN Fabs Gift of Fame “JLo” – 9-year old palomino mare
CFour Tibbie Stinson “Tibbie” – 9-year old mare
Fames To Blame “Famey” – 7-year old sorrel mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? I had a smooth year. My winter was slow but the more I had faith in JLo and let Billie help me with her the more we won!

What life lesson did you learn? Have faith and never give up!

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? Yes for sure! This past year I went totally on my own! Billie helped of course and Jimmie Munroe! Well and Kenny (Nichols)!

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? I played club volleyball from the time I was 9 till I was 17. I went to the Junior Olympics 4 times in the open. I was a 4 year letterman at my high school. I got to play for some great coaches. Jim Stone, Jim Miret and James Beasley. I love volleyball so much! I learned so much competing at such a high level! Front Range Volleyball club changed my life! I miss it!

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? Definitley Billie Jack

What are you most thankful for? JLo, Billie Jack Saebens, Kenny Nichols & Dale Barron

Sponsors: Wrangler, Justin, 12 Gauge Ranch, Renew Gold, HorseWare Ireland, Platinum, Techmix, Horse Hydrator, CSI Saddle Pads, Equicare, Complete Trailers, Zesterra
—————————————————————————————————————————————

Tammy Fischer
Tammy Fischer

#10 TAMMY FISCHER
2018 Earnings: $91,277
Hometown: Brenham, Texas
Horses: LK Sheza Hayday “Ziva” – 8-year old palomino mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it?

What life lesson did you learn?

Have you endured any “life changing” moments?

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in?

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble?

What are you most thankful for?

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Kelly Bruner
Kelly Bruner

#11 KELLY BRUNER
2018 Earnings: $90,515
Hometown: Millsap, TX
Horses: Suzytresseis “Suzy” – 9-year old gelding
Fabulous Zone “Pinky” – 9-year old palomino gelding
French Zone “Hollywood”

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? Suzy being so on and off. We think we figured out what was bothering him and he’s been more consistent since.

What life lesson did you learn? God has plans for you – even when you think your time has passed.

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? Not this summer

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? None.

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? Suzy. About the time you think he’s going to work perfectly, he makes a beer run.

What are you most thankful for? It’s a blessing to have three nice horses which seem to be ready and healthy. Also real thankful for my husband who has done a lot of miles this summer and keeps all the horses shod and the equipment working.

Sponsors: The Air-conditioned Shirt and Teskey’s Brazilian Saddle

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Tracy Nowlin
Tracy Nowlin

#12 TRACY NOWLIN
2018 Earnings: $90,496
Hometown: Nowata, OK
Horses: DJG Madison “Dolly Jo” – 12-year old bay mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? Being homesick and missing my son.

What life lesson did you learn? Pray and take a deep breath and don’t stay gone longer than two weeks at a time!

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? When I had a wreck with my son, and my son saw Jesus – he was four years old.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? I would not shine in any sport. I am an artist and make beadwork.

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? My family and belief in God.

What are you most thankful for? My son and my family.

Sponsors: Rock and Roll Cowgirl, Oxygen, Schriever Performance Pads, LubriSyn, Mike Fester Insurance, Marcotte Veterinary Clinic, Robbie Phillips Saddlery, and DC Construction

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Amberleigh Moore
Amberleigh Moore

#13 Amberleigh Moore
2018 Earnings: $89,127
Hometown: Salem, OR
Horses: CP Dark Moon “Paige” – 9-year old mare
Junos Royal Flush “Jen” – 11-year old mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? Paige was off April to August to heal from an injury. I waited patiently, which was not easy – until I had the “all clear” from my vet to go again.

What life lesson did you learn? “Patience is a virtue” Doing the right thing is not always easy, but it paid off.

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? The day I purchased Paige.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? As long as there is a horse involved, I would be good to go.

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? The sport of barrel racing will keep you humble. It’s loaded with plenty of ups and downs.

What are you most thankful for? My family, my horse, my sponsors, who make this all possible to go down the road.

Sponsors: Purina, 5 Star, Double J Saddlery, Cowgirl Tuff, CRRanchwear, OE, Silverlining Herbs, TightjointsPlus, Professional Choice, and MR4 Activet

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Jessica Telford
Jessica Telford

#14 JESSICA TELFORD
2018 Earnings: $88,342
Hometown: Caldwell, ID
Horses: Famous Cool Whip “Cool Whip” – 7 -year old sorrel mare
Shu Fire – 8-year old mare

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? My greatest challenge was, entering around my kids junior rodeos, and Jakes horse shows….And not forgetting to enter the kids and Jake! I would study my entry sheets way more than anyone ever needs too…but sometimes that 4th logistical scenario would actually be the best fit for my family. So my advice as far as overcoming this obstacle, is to do the extra work and choose the outcome that best supports ALL the people involved. It makes it so much easier for everyone else to support you, when the time comes for you to be selfish. Karma has a way of helping you out when you need it most!

What life lesson did you learn? Pretty Cliché, but “not to worry about the things you can not change”. When Cool Whips soles got sore and too thin… I could not make his feet grow any faster. As soon as I decided to not enter, and stopped myself from worrying about it…I received a random email from Connie Mccormmick, offering me the most legit “backup” horse anyone could think of, in Shu Fire. Whips feet grew, he got sound and I won quite a bit of money on Shu Fire in the mean time.

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? When my girls turned 7 and 8… they were in school all day, and I wasn’t “needed” as much. Something just hit me, saying I needed to find my own path and identity again. I loved, and still love being the wife to a super successful horse trainer, but that alone wasn’t fulfilling enough for me. Jake completely understood.. that year he bought me a 2yo Playgun out of a Dash Ta Fame mare.. A few years later I was running Playguns Fame and Famous Cool Whip in the futurities. They ended up both being great horses, and 3 years later Im at the NFR.. pretty freaking crazy!!

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? Dog training… You should see the tricks my Cheagle (Chihuahua x Beagle) can do! Lol

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? My kids, Shawny and Sierra, and my brother Tom Clark.

What are you most thankful for? A husband that supports all my crazy ideas and goals, our two girls who inspire me every day to be a better person, and my parents for giving me this love of rodeo.

Sponsors: Classic Equine, Nutrena, Rios of Mercedes Boots, Roo-Hide Saddlery, Kimes Ranch Jeans
—————————————————————————————————————————————

Carman Pozzobon
Carman Pozzobon

#15 CARMAN POZZOBON
2018 Earnings: $86,947
Hometown: Aldergrove, BC
Horses: Ripn Lady “Ripp” – 8-year old buckskin mare
TammysLittleParadise “Lulu” – 5-year old mare
Rimes Girl “Rime” – 7-year old mare
Eyes A Hula Lady “French”

What was your greatest challenge this year and how did you overcome it? Greatest challenge would have been stepping of Ripp the last two months of rodeos and letting her heal up for the NFR. Brought her back just in time for CFR but she wasn’t in the best shape. We had to stay in the top four for Calgary so that’s why she had to go through all the 6 rounds to maintain that. We overcome it by letting her rest at Coulee Equine.

What life lesson did you learn? Life lesson from our challenges is to never sell my back-up horse until the next one is ready. This winter Ripp will have a back-up so she doesn’t have to carry all the weight.

Have you endured any “life changing” moments? Many, I’ve lost many loved ones, and horses. Been though tough times and Many Great times its life and I love it. Always looking forward to what life is going to through at me next.

What sport other than rodeo would you shine in? Snowmobiling I only love the mountain climbing part so I would probably go through a lot of sleds though.

Who or what keeps you most grounded and humble? My colts. I love to train them. Everyone is different and has their own qualities. It always brings me back to the basic and grounds me when I get to Play with them all. Training is probably my favourite thing to do if I’m not traveling the world. They always keep me humble since you can’t have any expectations until they are finished and set in their style. Every year I have at least two I’ve picked out to train so it all starts over for me each November when I start to play with them again.

What are you most thankful for? All the help and support that I’ve received through this journey. I have a Army of friends, family, sponsorship and most amazing man in my life that have helped this all happen.

Sponsors: G MacRitchie Forestry Services, Equine Fit, Excipiotech, Woody’s Custom Saddles, Rock n Roll Denim, Vantage Trailers, Hoof Grip, RevitaVet, Classic Equine, Leading Edge Equine Sports Therapy, Tim Cooper Custom Hats, Coulee Equine – Conditioning, Rehab and Wellness, Zoetis, Sharp Edge Equine Supplements, HANSBO SPORT North America, MSport6 Apparel Inc. – The Air Conditioned Shirt, Elite Three, BC Trailer Guy, Zesterra by Pro Earth Animal Health, Branded By B, Coolaid, TC Custom Cinches, Mohair Tack Artist, Pulse Therapy, Prestige Leather, Fast Reinz, Nbk Equine, Frenchs Hula Guy, ThriveLife, TheraPlate by Rene Audsley

—————————————————————————————————————————————

The 2018 NFR action runs from December 6th through December 15th and is televised LIVE nightly at 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 8:00 p.m. Mountain Time, 9:00 p.m. Central and 10:00 p.m. Eastern time on the CBS Sports Network.

View it on Direct TV channel 221, Dish channel 158, or visit CBSSportsNetwork.com for your cable channel. For those without cable television, it’s also available with a Hulu Live TV subscription.

Click here for the WNFR TV schedule at WPRA.com.

Click here to learn more about becoming a member of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, and also enjoy these additional resources:

Enjoy this post? Sign up for weekly updates – it’s FREE!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *