Jessica Routier enters her first National Finals Rodeo at No. 9 in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association world standings, with season earnings of $98,704 from 57 rodeos. The Buffalo, South Dakota, horse trainer and mother of five rode Gary Westergren’s 7-year-old mare Fiery Miss West (Firewater Frenchman x Frenchmans Bo Dashus x Royal Quick Dash) that Routier trained and futuritied. Routier graciously answered a few questions about her spectacular rodeo season and the exciting 10 days in Vegas ahead.
BHN: Does it feel real yet?
Routier: “It finally does when we had to call and enter and they released the back number list. I think it finally hit me.”
At what point in the season did making the NFR become a reality for you?
“I don’t know if it ever really did until [the end of October]. Obviously when September 30 hit it was real then, but it seemed so, just a far out-there dream before. Even when the numbers looked like we had a really good chance, I never really believed it until it was done.”
Was it your goal this year to qualify?
“No, I’m running a young horse; she’s 7 this year. Last year was her first year of rodeoing, and I just wanted to season her last year and we ended up winning the [2017 Badlands Circuit Championship]. That set all this up, because the money we won at the Badlands Circuit finals counted and gave us a chance to go to Florida [to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo], and we did really well in Florida and that money counted, so that gave us the chance to go to the Calgary Stampede, so it was a spiral effect that started at last year’s Badlands Circuit finals. Once those things happened, I thought it’d be kind of silly not to go to some more rodeos and see what happened, so that’s what we did.”
What makes your horse “Missy” stand out?
“She just tries so hard every single time. The tougher the circumstances, if it’s a muddy arena or weird-shaped arena, I think she tries even harder. She is so focused and never gets distracted.”
How are you preparing for the NFR?
“We’re at home and have two circuit rodeos the first of November, so I won’t be rodeoing real hard up until then. Just keeping my horse legged up and feeling good; nothing really too different from normal.”
Who do you talk to for advice?
“Throughout the whole year and a lot of years actually, Lisa Lockhart is a very good friend of mine. She’s been so many places and been to the NFR so many times, she’s my go-to whenever I have a question about somewhere I’ve never been before or entering somewhere new. She’s been really helpful, because she’s been to Vegas with kids, and she’s been-there done-that.”
What aspect of your first NFR qualification means the most to you?
“I guess it’s just there’s so many people who helped me along the way, just helping out at home when I was gone and helping with kids and all sorts of little things that I’m so grateful for them to have all been a part of it. So many people gave up so much for this to happen that I would have felt really bad if we didn’t make it in the end, but we did. I’m very grateful for everyone who had a piece of it.”