Defending Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Jordon Briggs, Tolar, Texas, knew it was going to take an epic performance to top the stacked field on Super Saturday March 19 at RodeoHouston—what she didn’t know was that she and her dream horse Famous Lil Jet (“Rollo”) would need to do it twice.
“I knew it was going to be tough just because of how tough it was to make the Championship Shootout, and because of the group that made it back,” said Briggs. “To be honest with you, I didn’t know I had to make two runs on Saturday so that was a surprise! It’s hard to keep track with all the different tournament rodeos and how they do things. I was watching the tie down roping and heard the announcer make a comment like the ropers needed to be fast enough to make the final four round, so at that point I was like, ‘OK, I guess there are two rounds today!’”
The unflappable competitor didn’t panic though. She and Rollo had gotten their routine down pat during the bracket rounds, which started February 28, where they won Super Shootout Series I and $7,000 thanks to times of 14.75 (1st), 14.85 (2nd), and 14.67 (2nd). They also topped Super Series Semifinal 2 on March 17 with a 14.52.
“We stay off the grounds at Houston so normally I ride Rollo to warm up before I go over there to the stadium,” she said. “So even though it caught me off guard that we were making two runs, it didn’t cause our routine to change too much because I normally ride early, but he was saddled three times the day of the finals! That’s definitely not what we normally do.”
Briggs ran fourth in the Super Shootout Championship Round after Kassie Mowry and Famous Ladies Man (“Emmitt”) had laid down a 14.71 from No. 2 in the draw and Hailey Kinsel and DM Sissy Hayday (“Sis”) posted a 14.74 running third in the order. Briggs and Rollo answered the challenge with a 14.55 to go to the lead in the top-10 round. Making her attempt to win a third RodeoHouston title, Nellie Miller rode Rafter W Minnie Reba (“Sister”) to the second-fastest time of 14.67 from eighth in the draw. Incidentally, Mowry was another returning Houston champion having won the 2017 installment aboard Martha Smith’s Firewatermakemehappy. Those fastest four ladies would race for the $50,000 title one hour later—Briggs and Mowry riding own sons of Dash Ta Fame, Miller aboard a granddaughter of Dash Ta Fame sired by KS Cash N Fame, and Kinsel on her daughter of PC Frenchmans Hayday.
“Rollo made a really solid first run in the Super Shootout,” said Briggs. “I rode a little high to the first barrel and I had to really focus for the final round because the first barrel really sneaks up on me in NRG Stadium. You can’t see it, plus there’s no wall there as kind of a buffer so you have to be very precise and not override or play it too conservative either one.”
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Before the Championship Shootout, Briggs took Rollo back to the trailer, unsaddled and tried to keep him primed and ready to fire for that all-important final run.
“He drank a lot, I loaded him in the trailer so he had shavings to stand on so he would pee because he won’t standing on concrete. Being Houston, it’s more humid than we’re used to, so I put some ice boots on him and just kept him comfortable. I knew we’d have to come back and nail every barrel because I knew we were going to come back in there and have a knife fight for whoever was going to win it. Then I got ready and took him back into the air conditioning at the arena,” said Briggs.
Briggs says she’s only made back-to-back runs in one day on Rollo less than a handful of times and is blown away by how he responds.
“Over the Fourth of July we ran at Cody in the morning and then we were up at Red Lodge that night, and he won Red Lodge,” she said. “And, The American where he came back and was four tenths faster in the second go.”
Briggs knew with a lot of money and one of rodeo’s most prestigious titles at stake that her peers in the final four would have their adrenaline flowing and leave nothing on the table.
“I knew I needed to capitalize on being top of the ground and I knew we’d have to go at ‘em. After I went back to the trailer between runs, I told Rollo, ‘You’ve got to make one more run, I’m so sorry!’ And he was like, ‘It’s OK,’ it didn’t faze him, he came back in there wanting to win. He is just so consistent, solid and loves his job. He made that run two times in one day within about an hour. It’s indescribable. I just have to want it as bad as he does.”
Lighting the board with a time of 14.33—the fastest time in three weeks of elite competition—Briggs established a convincing lead.
“Rollo nailed first and second and I was maybe a little safe at third, but it worked,” she said. “I knew it was a good run and I’m just grateful it was as fast as it was.”
Second out was the team of Miller and Sister who were flawless until they grazed the third barrel leaving it to tack a five-second penalty onto their 14.80. Mowry and Emmitt, owned by Michael Boone, were fast with their 14.55, but still two tenths shy of Briggs. Fourth in the order was the lethal duo of Kinsel and Sis whose 14.80 placed them third for $10,000 to add to the $11,000 they had won in their bracket and semis. Mowry returned home to Dublin, Texas, $30,000 richer for her efforts and moved to sixth in the WPRA world standings, while Miller won $12,000.
Not only does Briggs know her horse is remarkable, she also praised each capable team she faced off against in the final four.
“Houston shows off the horses that are truly rodeo horses to me because it throws a lot at them that they have to be able to handle,” she said. “It’s an interesting set up for sure. With the format, the horses have to run in there quite a few times without getting freaked out or overwhelmed, and the ones that have more control it looks like to me tend to handle it better. The first set at Houston, which is the one I was in, was one of the toughest, there were so many of the campaigners in my set that are just great horses and so solid, it was so tough. I knew it was going to be tough to win it.”
To navigate the setup Briggs prepared physically and mentally to the best of her ability.
“The setup is hard on a jockey because you know you have to be fast, but you also can’t get too wound up wanting to win it or over excited to the point you overdo it. First is tricky, and the third barrel is hard there too because it’s out in the middle of nowhere so it’s easy to ride too hard to it, but on one run I thought I’d hit it because I set a little too soon. It’s a tough balance.”
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Briggs, who hadn’t run at RodeoHouston since 2010 with Frenchmans Jester, praised efforts made by the committee to ensure good ground conditions for the barrel racers.
“Houston had the most even ground conditions I’d run on in a while, you could win at the bottom or the top during the brackets and it was pretty consistent throughout. You could see that a lot of money was won from bottom draw positions. I was overall really impressed with the ground and with their efforts to make it safe and even.”
In the seven rodeos she’s entered since the start of the 2022 season, Briggs has ridden Rollo to $90,511 in earnings to overtake the No. 1 spot in the WPRA world standings by a margin of $27,410 over Kinsel in second. It’s an unfamiliar scenario for Briggs to have an early season lead in contrast to her come-from-behind NFR qualification in 2021.
“It’s really crazy that I got a gold buckle last year before I was even able to get in the big winter rodeos like Houston,” remarked Briggs. “The reason I got a gold buckle is because the COVID cancellations made it to where I could heal up from my broken ankle and rodeo in the summer and still make up ground. It’s really a good feeling this year to be able to jump out and get into these big rodeos and get more won early in the season.”
With RodeoHouston earnings making the prospect of fans seeing Briggs and Rollo back at this year’s NFR almost a foregone conclusion, she says plans after Rodeo Austin and San Angelo slack include “a pretty big break until Reno Rodeo in June.”
Briggs added special thanks to her sponsors for their support and encouragement: Classic Equine, Purina Performance Horse, Quanta Services, Inc., American Hat Company, RodeoRigs.com, BarrelRacing.com, Rock and Roll Cowgirl, Durango Boots, Shiloh Saddlery, DePaolo Equine Concepts & Horse Hair Analysis, K&N Equine Solutions, Easy Care Inc., The Ultimate in Hoof Protection.
- RODEOHOUSTON introduced its second women’s only event to the competition, Breakaway Roping. Colorado cowgirl Erin Johnson earned the historic victory.
- RODEOHOUSTON Super Series athletes competed for a share of $1,881,500 in prize money. Each event champion rode out of NRG Stadium with $50,000, plus winnings from the preliminary rounds.
- Briggs was the highest-earning rodeo athlete from RODEOHOUSTON at $60,000.
- Total attendance for all activities on the grounds, Feb. 24 – 26 (World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, presented by Cotton Holdings) and Feb. 28 – March 20, 2022 (Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo) reached 2,417,248.
RodeoHouston Barrel Racing Results:
Championship Shootout: 1. Jordon Briggs, 14.33 seconds, $50,000; 2. Kassie Mowry, 14.55, $20,000; 3. Hailey Kinsel, 14.80, $10,000; 4. Nellie Miller, 19.80, $5,500.
Super Shootout Championship Round: 1. Jordon Briggs, 14.55 seconds; 2. Nellie Miller, 14.67; 3. Kassie Mowry, 14.71; 4. Hailey Kinsel, 14.74; 5. Emma Charleston, 14.96, $1,250; 6. Dona Kay Rule, 15.13, $1,250; 7. Wenda Johnson, 15.16, $1,250; 8. Lois Ferguson, 15.29, $1,250; 9. Jimmie Smith, 20.05, $1,250; 10. Molly Otto, 20.37, $1,250.
Wild Card: 1. Jimmie Smith, 14.43 seconds, $3,000; 2. Emma Charleston, 14.67, $2,000; 3. Stevi Hillman, 14.77, $1,000; 4. Jessica Routier, 14.83, $750.
Super Series Semifinal 2 – March 17: 1. Jordon Briggs, 14.52 seconds, $3,000; 2. Kassie Mowry, 14.54, $2,000; 3. Dona Kay Rule, 14.61, $1,000; 4. Nellie Miller, 14.75, $750.
Super Series Semifinal 1 – March 16: 1. Hailey Kinsel, 14.59 seconds, $3,000; 2. Molly Otto, 14.62, $2,000; 3. Lois Ferguson, 14.74, $1,000; 4. Wenda Johnson, 14.91, $750.
Super Series 1: First round: 1. Jordon Briggs, 14.75 seconds, $3,000; 2. Dona Kay Rule, 14.78, $2,000; 3. Shelley Morgan, 14.86, $1,000; 4. Jessica Routier, 14.93, $750. Second round: 1. Dona Kay Rule, 14.82 seconds, $3,000; 2. Jordon Briggs, 14.84, $2,000; 3. Jessica Routier, 14.95, $1,000; 4. Shelley Morgan, 15.01, $750. Third round: 1. Jessica Routier, 14.52 seconds, $3,000; 2. Jordon Briggs, 14.67, $2,000; 3. Dona Kay Rule, 14.69, $1,000; 4. Ivy Saebens, 15.05, $750. Super Shootout qualifiers: 1. Jordon Briggs, $7,000; 2. Dona Kay Rule, $6,000; 3. Jessica Routier, $4,750; 4. Shelley Morgan, $1,750.
Super Series 2: First round: 1. Tarryn Lee, 14.67 seconds, $3,000; 2. Lois Ferguson, 14.92, $2,000; 3. Kelley Carrington, 14.97, $1,000; 4. Shannon McReynolds, 15.03, $750. Second round: 1. Cheyenne Wimberly, 14.87 seconds, $3,000; 2. Lois Ferguson, 14.89, $2,000; 3. Ashley Castleberry, 14.97, $1,000; 4. Kelley Carrington, 15.00, $750. Third round: 1. Kelley Carrrington, 14.96 seconds, $3,000; 2. Ashley Castleberry, 14.98, $2,000; 3. Sissy Winn, 15.14, $1,000; 4. Lois Ferguson, 15.17, $750. Super Shootout qualifiers: 1. Kelley Carrington, $4,750; 2. Lois Ferguson, $4,750; 3. Ashley Castleberry, $3,000; 4. Cheyenne Wimberly, $3,000.
Super Series 3: First round: 1. Paige Jones, 14.90 seconds, $3,000; 2. Emma Charleston, 14.91, $2,000; 3. Jimmie Smith, 14.92, $1,000; 4. Katie Jo Halbart, 15.09, $750. Second round: 1. Emma Charleston, 14.77 seconds, $3,000; 2. Deb Guelly, 14.93, $2,000; 3. Jimmie Smith, 14.96, $1,000; 4. Paige Jones, 15.04, $750. Third round: 1. Carly Taylor, 14.80 seconds, $3,000; 2. Paige Jones, 14.88, $2,000; 3. Emma Charleston, 15.01, $1,000; 4. Cassidy Champlin, 15.19, $750. Super Shootout qualifiers: 1. Emma Charleston, $6,000; 2. Paige Jones, $5,750; 3. Carly Taylor, $3,000; 4. Jimmie Smith, $2,000 each.
Super Series 4: First round: 1. Kassie Mowry, 14.53 seconds, $3,000; 2. Stephanie Fryar, 15.06, $2,000; 3. Kylee Scribner, 15.11, $1,000; 4. Shali Lord, 15.16, $750. Second round: 1. Kassie Mowry, 14.68 seconds, $3,000; 2. Shali Lord, 14.80, $2,000; 3. Emily Beisel, 14.91, $1,000; 4. Stephanie Fryar, 15.08, $750. Third round: 1. Molly Otto, 14.73 seconds, $3,000; 2. Kassie Mowry, 14.89, $2,000; 3. Stephanie Fryar, 14.96, $1,000; 4. Kyle Scribner, 15.25, $750. Super Shootout qualifiers: 1. Kassie Mowry, $8,000; 2. Stephanie Fryar, $3,750; 3. Molly Otto, $3,000; 4. Shali Lord, $2,750.
Super Series 5: First round: 1. Nellie Miller, 14.60, $3,000; 2. Hailey Kinsel, 14.80, $2,000; 3. Stevi Hillman, 15.05, $1,000; 4. Katie Pascoe, 15.19, $750. Second round: 1. Hailey Kinsel, 14.76 seconds, $3,000; 2. Nellie Miller, 14.91, $2,000; 3. Stevi Hillman, 15.01, $1,000; 4. Katie Pascoe, 15.07, $750. Third round: 1. Wenda Johnson, 14.53 seconds, $3,000; 2. Lisa Lockhart, 14.55, $2,000; 3. Stevi Hillman, 14.66, $1,000; 4. Nellie Miller, 14.78, $750. Super Shootout qualifiers: 1. Nellie Miller, $5,750; 2. Hailey Kinsel, $5,000; 3. Stevi Hillman, 14.66, $3,000; 4. Wenda Johnson, $3,000.