OPENING SPREAD: Jordon Briggs and Rollo competing at the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Reigning World Champion Barrel Racer Jordon Briggs is going into the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo leading the world standings. With more than $175,000 won in just 29 rodeos during the season, Briggs is coming in with a full head of steam and a powerful partner in a horse she has raised and trained named Rollo.
Although Briggs’ merits stand alone as the rider and trainer in this hard-to-beat team, she is blessed by the confidence she inherits as the daughter of one of the sport’s most accomplished superstars, ProRodeo Hall of Fame barrel racer Kristie Peterson.
Briggs and her husband Justin are accomplished horse trainers in Tolar, Texas. Raising their daughter, Bexley, the two have consistently maintained a successful business as a team, while Jordon and the super horse Rollo rack up wins on their way to their second WNFR as a team in December.
COWGIRL had a chance to meet with the Briggs family on their ranch to talk about the stellar successes they have achieved while raising a family and maintaining their businesses.
COWGIRL: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?
JORDON BRIGGS: Make my own run. I don’t know how many times I’ve told myself that. You get caught up in watching other people or you get caught up in the competition behind it. And when I was at the NFR, my mom just said, “It’s you and Rollo. You guys just go make your own run every single night and that’s all that matters.”
CG: As a mom, how do you balance motherhood and going down the road?
JB: An amazing family. My mom’s very involved. My dad is a great support system. And then an amazing husband who supports me 110%. He was all about me keeping Rollo and rodeoing instead of staying home training futurity colts. He’s my biggest support system for sure of just taking care of Bexley. They stay home a lot when I’m in Texas and I go by myself, because it’s just easier. But they go with me during the summer, and he puts his life on hold for it.
CG: Do you see Bexley becoming a barrel racer or horsewoman?
JB: I’m not sure. She likes to pet them, but I don’t know. It’s like that kid that grew up with horses, I think she kind of takes advantage of the situation a little bit that she’s just so used to having horses all the time. We don’t really know what her passion is quite yet. We’re doing gymnastics and she loves makeup and dresses, so we’ll see.
CG: What is your first memory of barrel racing?
JB: I had a really cool pony, and my parents just had me mounted on neat horses, nothing too powerful. I didn’t really start competing until I was probably 12. A lot of kids now start as early as possible, and I just had good horses and just learned how to ride first.
CG: As a little girl, did you dream about being like your mom?
JB: I think I dreamed first of being a trick rider, because that was the most popular act at all the rodeos. I grew out of that and yes, all through high school and into college, my dream for sure was to go to the NFR and be like my mom.
CG: What do you see in yourself that you get from your mom?
JB: We’re very fortunate that we get to do what we love for a living. I’m very business minded about this–that you be smart about it, and you make a living doing what you love to do.
CG: And what do you see in your daughter that she gets from you?
JB: Very strong willed. Lots of energy, and she loves big.
CG: 2009 was your first NFR and 2021 was your next. You won that one. How big was the difference between those two for you?
JB: I was 21 in 2009 and was definitely following in my mom’s footsteps. This is what I’m supposed to do. This is easy and I didn’t do as well at the NFR as I hoped. My horse wasn’t as strong after the NFR going into the next year. I had had some colts coming up that I was training and I kind of learned from. Jester was the first horse I made the NFR on, and he won the BFA Futurity. Training him and adapting him into a rodeo horse, I found my true passion of training futurity horses. And so, after hits and bumps in the road with the rodeo, I decided I just wanted to do colts and train for a while.
L to R: Bexley, Jordon, and Justin; Jordon and Rollo at home in Tolar, Texas. Photos by Ken Amorosano.
CG: This year you qualified for, and won, Rodeo Houston and other major rodeos. Getting to those big events, did that make it easier this second time around?
JB: That’s the goal. So far, I’ve made the NFR twice without those big rodeos because I didn’t rodeo the year before. It sounds crazy, I had a Gold Buckle before I got into San Antonio and Houston and Fort Worth. But I really wanted to do well in the winter, so I didn’t have to rodeo so long and be away from my family as much as I did last year. I was really looking forward to getting into those rodeos and taking advantage of that situation.
CG: Your mom’s horse, Bozo was in your life for many years. What was so special about those two horses?
JB: Bozo and Rollo are a lot alike as in they just love their job. They know how to do it. They don’t want to hit barrels. They’re very consistent and solid. They’re on your team every single day and just really give you so much confidence. Personality wise, they’re a lot different. Bozo, he didn’t want to be pet, scratched, nothing. Just feed me, run barrels. That’s it. And Rollo’s like a pet dog. If he could roll over and have you scratch his belly, he would. When horses come into your life like that, it’s just so special and you just have to treasure them and just be grateful for every day you get to spend with him and every run you get to make on him.
CG: You use roping in your barrel horse training. Why?
JB: My husband is an amazing horseman. He’s a huge part of my success. Our horses don’t leave our place. He’s our horseshoer, breaks our horses, and he’s a great team roper. All our horses go through the whole process, because we own all the horses that we ride. If they don’t turn out to be barrel horses, financially, we need them to turn out to be something else just in case. They do everything and it makes them good all-around horses. I sell a lot of horses to kids and so they can do anything and everything on them. Rollo is a phenomenal rope horse. He did very well for my husband.
CG: What is the business that you and your husband run?
JB: We raise colts and train them for barrels, roping, pole bending, and then I love doing the futurity still, so the goal is to make them futurity horses. And then, other than Rollo, we sell all of them when they’re done with their futurity or their derby year. Another business we have is building places. We’ve built four places from scratch since we’ve been married, and we live in them for two to four years sell them and build another one.
CG: It’s all horses, all the time. Barrel racing, futurity training. What is success for you?
JB: Obviously, paying our bills and living comfortably and just getting to enjoy what we do. Not having to work our butt off too much and still be able to enjoy life. But even if, my husband and I talk about it all the time, if we won the lottery, we would still get up and do the same thing every day. We just might do it in an indoor arena. So just making a living, doing what we love to do.
CG: What does it mean to you to have a horse you’ve trained and competed on win Horse of The Year?
JB: That was a bigger gift than the Gold Buckle to have your peers see your horse be so talented and think the same as you do. Think as highly as you do. When I got that phone call that he won Horse of The Year, my husband and I cried. So that was awesome. I appreciated that so much.
Jordon, Bexley, and Rollo.
CG: What did you see in Rollo that you didn’t see in other horses that you trained?
JB: How consistent he is. He just kind of knows, don’t hit a barrel. Don’t lean. Make the same run every time. Luckily, the same run he makes every time gets me a check almost all the time. So that’s a horse that just makes it fun. There’s a lot of driving with rodeo and a lot of downtime for a 17 second pattern, and so to have a horse that you know is going to be on your team every single day and make it fun, it’s just amazing.
CG: Since the win last year, has your life changed very much?
JB: My life has changed a lot. I do a lot more interviews. The rodeo world is a lot more publicized. With the sponsors, I feel blessed to have people who want to be involved in my success and at the same time I can promote their businesses. I appreciate that. We’re just going to ride the train while we can with Rollo and if Rollo decides something happens to him or he doesn’t want to do this anymore, then we’ll just go back to training futurity colts.
CG: Are there any sayings from your family that you use to this day?
JB: My mom used to tell me that you ‘fake it till you make it.’ Kind of fake your confidence if you’re having a low day. But also, she’d tell me to put a smile on my face and tell myself I’ve got the best horse there. It’s all about confidence, your mental game, just kind of talking yourself up so you have your confidence to go out there and make your run. Don’t be negative or thinking about your last bad run. Just think about your greatest runs, and that’s your run and go make it. Honestly, we’re just competing against the clock. We’re really not competing against each other. You have to stay in that mind frame that you’re just competing against the clock and not other people. And then if it’s not your day, you’d be happy for who won.
CG: Do you have a hero?
JB: My mom, for sure. She’s been through a lot in her life and struggles and everything and she just always prevails. She’s a very strong woman and she was the provider for our family growing up.
Jordon and Rollo competing at the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. PRCA PRORODEO Photo by Phil Kitts.
A Conversation With Kristie Peterson
CG: What do you see most in your daughter that you see in yourself?
Kristie Peterson: Competitive nature, for sure. She has way more talent than I do. She has a real gift with horses. She can jump on anything and ride. She understands that different horses are different and she’s just amazing that way. Together, she has a good heart for horses. I think that’s what we have most in common. We love them.
CG: What went through your mind as she progressed through each of the events at the WNFR last year?
KP: Just watching her thinking, “Oh, does he have enough speed? Does he have…” Because it’s your the first year and Jordon’s always had confidence in him. She knows him. Absolutely. So, when it got to the sixth, seventh round, I was like, “Oh my gosh, she could do this.” And of course, we’re not going to talk about it, but I mean, she did everything you could do. The Average, the World, the Horse of The Year. It was mind-blowing. Just a blessing for sure. Crazy.
CG: Did it bring back memories for you?
KP: Yes. I think I could relate to how she was probably feeling because it’d been so long since she had been there. And the first run, you’re just blanked out. And then when it’s over, it’s like, “Wow, that didn’t seem so long.”
CG: What made Bozo so special for you?
KP: Bozo was one in a million. We called him the Michael Jordon of barrel racing because he loved it. He was so talented. He knew it was a game and he loved it. No matter what kind of ground, what kind of circumstances. Big, small. He just loved it.
CG: What about fame? Do you think there’s pressure on her as far as being a “famous barrel racer?”
KP: I always say you’re famous in a very small circle. People don’t really know who you are at the grocery store. There were a lot of sponsors when I was doing it and then it seemed like they cooled off. But she’s like me. She does it for the love of the game and the money and the fame is not something we ever craved.
CG: What about strategy? Is is different from when you were going down the road competing?
KP: I don’t think so. But with the money, you don’t have to go maybe as hard. When Jordon won the $50,000 at Houston, I mean that really bumps you up. You don’t have to go as much if you don’t want to, and you can take care of your horses.
CG: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
KP: The best advice is just one run at a time. I think the best advice I gave Jordon. It’s just you and Rollo, and that is it. Once you’re in the alleyway and they call your name, it’s just you and your horse. That’s all you can think about.