By JimiBeth Myers
Behind the Scenes
Barrel Racers Kick Off Each NFR Rodeo with a Special Horse in Grand Entry
The 6-time NFR Qualifier Tammy Fischer competed on a big-hearted bay gelding that she calls Roundpen. Most notably they clocked 5 NFR go-round wins in 2002. Roundpen is now retired, Tammy Fischer is Rookie of the Year Taci Bettis’ rodeo mentor, and the two conspired to give Roundpen another chance to get on the dirt at the Thomas & Mack arena.
Taci Bettis explained, “Round Pen is 21 years old this year and we thought that it would be really cool since he’s won so many go-rounds at the NFR that he gets another chance to shine in Las Vegas, so I am riding him as my grand entry horse. And he has been fabulous.”
Nellie Miller rode into Las Vegas in 2010 on Rebas Smokey Joe (“Blue Duck”), who was a homegrown horse that her father, Sam Miller, trained. If you keep an eye out at at the start of the rodeo each night in Las Vegas you may see some similarities between Nellie’s main barrel horse Sister, whose name comes from the fact that she is a half sister to Blue Duck, because she is serving as her Grand Entry horse.
Blue Duck is now 21 years old and gets ridden by Miller’s 4 year old daughter. The blue roan horse will enjoy 10 days of the limelights as she runs across the Vegas dirt and hears the roar of the crowd once again after crossing through through the signature yellow arena gate each night.
At this point Lisa Lockhart has competed in over 100 rounds of rodeo competition at the National Finals Rodeo. Lisa is married to roper Grady Lockhart so it may come as no surprise that her kids are all strong rodeo competitors. Her oldest, daughter Alyssa, former National Little Britches Rodeo Association Champion Barrel Racer, is in college at Black Hills State University. Alyssa has big dreams of running down the alley in Las Vegas like her mom. This year Lisa is riding Alyssa’s barrel horse, Legs, in the grand entry.
Like Nellie Miller, Kathy Grimes wanted to honor a horse she used to haul down the road as a barrel horse on her trip to the NFR. Grimes said that she is riding 19 year old “Mr. Sun Dollar” in grand entry each night. Kathy is a veterinarian and equine fertility specialist and Dollar is the second horse she ever produced in her clinic. She said that “with each horse born I have dreams of running them down the alley at the Thomas & Mack. I am so happy that Dollar finally gets to run down the alley.”