Written by: Andrea Stevens< Back to Articles
Jessica Routier’s goal at the beginning of the season was to finish in the top 30 of the WPRA world standings to set herself and her 7-year-old mare up for a bigger season next year. But when the barrel racer from Buffalo, South Dakota, and her horse, Fiery Miss West “Missy,” won the Badlands Circuit in the barrel racing in 2017, it set them up for numerous opportunities this year. “With the circuit finals money counting and the RNCFR counting, that gave us an opportunity for Calgary, and that money counted, and it all worked out,” says Jessica, who’s currently sitting eighth with $93,843. “I decided I might as well keep going fairly hard, and she’s run great. It’s been a learning year, and I haven’t been out of the circuit a lot before this. But for the most part, everything has gone really well and it’s been an amazing year.”
Jessica, who is also a wife and mother of five, grew up riding cutting horses, along with roping, barrel racing, pole bending, and goat tying in the NLBRA. “I rode a lot of different horses when I was younger, and they were all nice. My mom trained them,” says Jessica. “I was 16 when I found that first special one I really clicked with, and that’s where my favorite event turned from goat tying to barrel racing.” Jessica went on to college rodeo on the National American University team, and has futuritied numerous horses. “I think cutting really shaped the way that I ride barrel horses. I really ride with my seat and my feet, and I ride a bigger saddle,” she explains. “I like my feet out in front of me, and I tend to get along better with smaller horses.”
Finding the right fit of saddle and pad goes along with finding the right horse, and Jessica recently joined the 5 Star Equine team. “I’ve used their pads for a long time. I was always taught to look for no seams or anything that’s going to cause different places of pressure on a horse’s back. You can get a one-inch pad and use it forever and still have a one-inch pad, there are no indentations from the saddle. I love that they’ve been so good to work with on the different options you can have.” Jessica also started using 5 Star’s sport boots this year over the traditional polo wraps she normally uses. “I like that it’s something that’s going to conform to every leg as best as it can. It’s probably impossible to find a boot or wrap that’s going to support a 1,200-pound animal in all cases, but it’s the most protection you can get with the least amount of interference where the legs are going.”
When she’s not on the road, Jessica is home helping her husband, Riley, on their ranch, and she rides horses for Gary Westergren, who owns Missy. “Gary raises a lot of horses and his stud and mares stand in Hot Springs, South Dakota. When his horses come of riding age, they come to my house and we decide what path to take with them. We typically send them to someone to put the first 30–60 days on them and then either my husband or I will work them on the ranch. I’ll start them on barrels lightly if they’re broke enough, but our main focus is being out and experiencing that world until they’re a little older.”
Two horses that stand out in Jessica’s career are Especials Smoothie, who turned Jessica on to barrels when she was 16, and now Missy. “My mom started Smoothie, and then I high school rodeoed on her and won the CNFR on her. I ran her for about 17 years, and now my 10-year-old daughter runs her. She’s 23 now and she’s been an amazing horse. She and Missy are both very similar—they have very big hearts, and they can stand up on any ground and try 110 percent every single time.”
When Jessica is traveling, her mother and several close friends put rides on the younger horses. She does the majority of her riding in the fall and hopes to ride through the winter this year. “Our family and our ranch and horses are what keeps us busy. Our oldest, Braden, is 12 and he loves to ranch and rope and do school sports. Our oldest girl, Payton, is 10 and she’s been trick riding since she was 4, and she also barrel races.” Jessica and Riley’s three youngest daughters, 3-year-old twins Rayna and Rose, and 2-year-old Charlie, love traveling to rodeos as well.
“I just love how honest and loyal the horses are, and I love all the people that you meet. It’s such a kid-oriented thing too that gives your kids goals and good people to look up to,” says Jessica. “It’s an intense competition but everyone is there for each other too. My ultimate goal for the year is to make the NFR, and I would also like to get back to Kissimmee for the RNCFR.”