Dona Kay Rule
Dona Kay Rule is a 5 Star Equine Products Team member, and she’s headed to her first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this month. One of […]
STEVI HILLMAN IS THE NEWEST $1 MILLION COWGIRL ON THE RODEO TRAIL.
The 5 Star Equine team member made the million-dollar mark at the 2021 National Finals Rodeo.
On her sixth trip to the “big show,” she won two rounds (splitting the win in round nine) and placed three more times to finish as the number six cowgirl in the world standings. She jumped from eleventh place to sixth place, earning over $100,000 at the Finals.
The “yellow dragon” carried Stevi through all ten rounds of this year’s NFR.
Famous Lemon Drop, “Lemon Drop,” is a five-year-old palomino who showed up on Stevi’s radar in April.
The mare was all-business and kept her space, but the two bonded quickly, and Stevi took her on the summer rodeo run.
She knew the horse was successful at futurities and indoor arenas, but rodeos, with outside pens and varying conditions, was a question.
But Lemon Drop shone. “She took to it extremely well,” she said.
The horse has her own personality, Stevi said, describing her as a toddler with lots of energy. “She’s just like a little kid that never wears down. She’s spunky and a lot to warm up. Wild is a good word to describe her.”
Not everyone can jump on Lemon Drop to ride her. “She’s a lot of horse. She’s little but she’s strong. You have to be very dialed in and sharp with your reactions and your timing, because she is aggressive and quick and fast and really strong. She’s a very, very confident five-year-old.”
Stevi’s team includes other horses, in addition to Lemon Drop, who have excelled for her. The team started with Truck, a horse she began riding in 2014 and who is still in the rodeo trailer this year. It also includes Martini, Sharpie, Slick, Sherlock, Millie, Shiner, and several others. Each horse has played its part; some larger roles, some cameos. But they’re all important.
“I take pride in the fact that these horses have all been part of my story,” Stevi said. “I treat them like family, and I’ve been blessed by all of them.”
She has been a loyal 5 Star Equine customer since a friend gave her a saddle pad in 2012. “I’m all about my horses and their backs, and how they feel and how the saddle fits. Five Star has been a great part of my program and keeping my horses’ backs feeling good. And the pads last a really long time. That’s sold me on them.”
The 5 Star Equine team provides their Wrangler NFR qualifiers with a custom-made saddle pad, made especially for each cowgirl. Stevi’s had her birth month flower on it, a marigold, her previous NFR back numbers, and yellow and gold crocodile print, “which looked really good on Lemon Drop.”
She is no stranger to young horses and jokes that she does well with five-year-olds. She’s taken three different horses, all at five years of age, to the NFR: Lemon Drop this year, and Sharpie and Martini in past years.
She has a zeal for training horses. “It’s my passion. I love taking a young horse to the next level. That’s probably why I get along so well with the five-year-olds. I understand them. Not everybody can run a five-year-old. You have to keep them together without scaring them.”
Stevi and her husband, Ty, live on their place near Weatherford, Texas. They break their own horses and now own a stud with babies on the place. This year, she has four futurity horses and will rodeo a little and futurity a little more. “We’ll go to the big rodeos, but we’ll take some time to enjoy the closer futurities and the younger horses,” she said. “I have some great customers that have big hopes for their horses, and I’m super excited about that.”
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