I had such high hopes for her, just like I did when we started Famous Lil Jet, or ‘Rollo’, the horse that won me the 2021 Women’s Professional Rodeo World Championship. Stoli was my Rollo back then. I won the Barrel Futurities of America Juvenile on her in 2014, and then she placed in every futurity that I took her to after that. She won $200,000 and became the leading futurity horse of the year. However, early into her derby year, Stoli got kicked in the hock, and just like that, she was out for five years in the broodmare pasture.
She was the first horse I had that sustained a career-ending injury that was already proven to be a great horse, a once-in-a-lifetime type of horse. Going through that experience was hard, but in the long run it taught me a lot. I learned to never take anything for granted, to appreciate every run instead of letting the pressure of having a great horse like that eat you alive. After having gone through that ordeal with Stoli, I was more prepared to have Rollo when he came into my life. And I learned how important it is to appreciate every single run I get.
When things came together for me to pursue my 2021 National Finals Rodeo qualification, I had sold all my finished horses so I could afford to keep Rollo. I needed to be able to sleep at night after not selling him for life-changing money, so as it turned out, I didn’t have a rodeo-seasoned back-up that I could take along with me.
Stoli was all I had. It was so weird; it was like she knew she was all I had. I had taken my mom’s horse to some local jackpots but that hadn’t gone great. I’d been going to jackpots for a few weeks and when I’d leave, Stoli would chase my truck and trailer up and down the driveway. She looked as sound as ever just running around in the pasture.
One night we came home from a jackpot and Stoli was standing by the gate looking at me, like “Hello, it’s me, just take me!” My husband immediately said, “You need to ride her tomorrow.” I responded by telling him I wouldn’t. But the following day I ended up riding her, and she felt as if she never missed a beat. I legged her up, and it turned out that she had been craving running; she wanted to turn the barrels.
I had a blast having her in the trailer and experiencing that summer of rodeoing with both Stoli and Rollo. She came out of the broodmare pasture ready to work. And I believe it suited her to go rodeo, because she is the type of horse that likes to be going, doing, and seeing everything.
Rollo and Stoli share traits that make them extraordinary equine athletes. First, they’re consistent. I like a horse that’s going to be a placer every single time, even more so than a horse we call “a bad boyfriend,” or one that blows the doors off on one run and then the next five runs are bad. In rodeo, that type of horse is too tough to deal with mentally; it drains you. Horses that stay the same every run, whether they’re a winner or a placer, are much easier on you. I appreciate a horse that’s a team player and not trying to outthink you. You’re going to take care of them 24 hours a day if they’ll give you all they can for those 14 to 17 seconds in a run.
Both Stoli and Rollo have given me absolutely everything they have in every situation I’ve ever asked them to perform, and now Stoli has given us six or seven foals, meaning her legacy will be alive and well for many years