In a blur of pure athleticism and grit, the projection of Stevi Hillman’s season drastically changed on the historic green mile of the Pendleton Round-Up. In 28.23 seconds, to be exact, the Granbury, Barrel Racer’s season became over $10,000 more profitable. With a recent win at one of the largest Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) to conclude his regular season run, Hillman now finds herself in the heat of the bubble race to earn her place under the bright lights of Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR).
First-class rodeo athletes hold their breaths in anticipation and cross their fingers for luck as they compete on one of Rodeo’s most iconic, grass-seeded stages. With nervous whispers of the PRCA season quickly ending, this week’s feeling can only be echoed in one statement– “Let er’ Buck”.
Any other weekend in the quaint, historic town of Pendleton, Oregon farmers are seen on wheat fields and cattle ranchers tending to their herds, but not on the second full week of September– it’s Round-Up Week.
Feelings of early fall and eager excitement consumed the Northwestern air this past week, as nearly 16,000 fans packed the historic stands to witness one of professional rodeo’s most unique events. Winning PRCA’s “Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year” award nine times, the Pendleton Round-Up rings true as one of the most exciting and impactful rodeos.
Not only does this rodeo have a significant cultural impact on its spectators, but it also is one of the largest opportunities for Rodeo contestants to take home large earnings and highly coveted honors. With the regular PRCA season just two weeks away from concluding, athletes on the cusp of qualifying for the NFR entered with eager hopes of taking home a piece of the $600,000 payout.
“I’m grateful to make the Short Go here again. Running on the grass is the most scary, most fun thing I’ve ever done,” explained Hillman, who also won the title in 2016.
Hillman also expressed the importance of trust in one’s equine partner to cover the iconic green mile.
“It is so important to be able to trust and feel your horse to push them across the grass and into the dirt to turn,” said Hillman, who left Pendelton victorious atop her six-year-old mare “Sandi”. “Sandi” out of “JC Pick Six X Tres Seis” by “BHR Frenchies Socks” is currently owned by 70 Ranch Performance Horses and has been an essential part of Hillman’s line-up this fall.
As of September 22, 2023, Hillman currently sits in 16th place of the WPRA Barrel Racing world standings, just $2,197 away from 15th place and qualifying for her eighth NFR qualification. As the PRCA season quickly winds down, all eyes will be on Hillman and her team as they race toward Las Vegas.