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Herman Rules at Helldorado
by Jolee Lautaret

Las Vegas, Nev.-There are many cowboys and cowgirls who are glad that the Helldorado Days PRCA Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev., has returned after many years absent. Count amongst those newly elected WPRA Wilderness Circuit Director Julie Herman.

"I'm really glad they brought it back," says the Bluffdale, Utah resident. "The committee is trying to do what they need to and it's very good for our circuit."

Helldorado Days began as a way to attract visitors to Las Vegas after construction of the Boulder Dam - now Hoover Dam -- in the early 1930's. The rodeo became a cornerstone of the celebration of the city's western heritage during the second annual Helldorado Days in 1935 but after falling on hard times, the rodeo disappeared for many years in the 1990's.

Helldorado Days was revived in 2005 for the city's 100th anniversary and the rodeo was reinstituted in 2009. Since then, it has become a must-stop for the WPRA's elite including 2009 Champion Danyelle Campbell and three-time and reigning World Champion, Sherry Cervi, who took the title in 2010.

For the 2011 edition held May 13-15, it was an unregistered horse named Gus who outran a tough field of Wrangler NFR qualifiers to take home the title. Herman bought Gus' mother when she was pregnant with Gus and raised the colt after his mother passed away when he was just two months old.

"He is by Society Road," she says. Society Road is a son of Dash for Cash and out of a daughter of Beduino. Herman trained the gelding but did not take the immature colt to futurities, waiting until he was six to begin to run him.

"If you aren't going to the futurities, you just have to wait until they're ready," she says. "He's like Denise the Menace; he's really good but just full of hell. He's getting better now."

At 12-years-old, Gus is a seasoned veteran and Herman, who got her WPRA permit in 1995, has been to six Wilderness Circuit Finals Rodeos. With a big win in Las Vegas, she is well on her way to a seventh, currently fifth in the circuit standings.

"He's pretty fast, a little deceiving," she says of her equine partner. When not rodeoing, Herman spends her days as a hairstylist, a career she has had for 25 years.

Herman rode horses with her dad, Robert, a horse lover himself as a kid. She high school and college rodeoed but it was a good futurity horse in the mid-1990's that brought her to the WPRA.

At Vegas, she had high praise for Gus, whose 16.00-second run clocked a full tenth better than the field that included recent Wrangler NFR qualifiers Christina Richman and Sheena Robbins along with leading 2011 rookie Lee Ann Rust, who is currently ranked 13th in the ProRodeo Standings. Herman collected $1,229.

"He was tight on every turn. He came in perfect and didn't fight me on the set up. He was just focused and came across the line coming home strong," she says, noting that she felt that was the difference in her run from others. "For one run, he put his feet in the right spot. I was really proud of him and how he worked."

The Helldorado Committee went all out for the WPRA barrel racers, hand raking the ground after each run and giving a cash bonus to the fast time in each of the three performances. Collecting bonus cash were Wilderness Circuit cowgirl Sierra Dawn Thomas for Friday's performance, Herman for Saturday, and Wrangler NFR qualifier Christina Richman and WPRA World Champion Heeler Dolli Lautaret for splitting on Sunday.

Richman continued her hot streak this spring, moving into 10th place in the World standings with her split of second place after winning Oakdale, Red Bluff, Stonyford, Bakersfield and Sonora to lead the California Circuit. Thomas split third with Californian Linda Vick, a former WPRA Reserve World Champ who is currently ranked 21st in the standings and chasing her second Wrangler NFR qualification.

For more information on Helldorado Days, visit them on-line at

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