LAS VEGAS—December 4, 2021— Stevi Hillman and Famous Lemon Drop took home the Round Three win at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge. The duo turned in a time of 13.70, which banked $26,996.97 and moved Hillman from the No. 7 position to No. 4 in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association world standings.

“She’s free running, she’s strong and I knew she’d get stronger and stronger every night,” Hillman said. “With the walls here, I thought it could be good. I’m super happy with her and just grateful to be here.”

Famous Lemon Drop pedigree

Hillman and “Lemon Drop” have been partners since March 2021. Hillman has been focusing on seasoning and experiencing the mare to the high pressure situations that rodeos offer, which can often rattle young horses. Hillman has used the same philosophy throughout the pro rodeo season she is putting into practice in Las Vegas for the NFR—a routine of keeping Lemon Drop as confident and relaxed as possible. 

“Knowing her personality, she’s strong and a lot of horse,” Hillman said. “You have to keep her real backed off, really quiet, confident and keep her happy.”

While Hillman did make some adjustments for Round Three, it wasn’t for missteps, but rather perfecting the footwork. She and Lemon Drop have been in money-earning positions the first two rounds. 

“I missed the first barrel the first night, and so I helped her a little too much. I knew I was getting straight at it, and I thought if I just get around this one, she could be fast,” she said. “She was dialed in and trying to do her job like she always does.”

DaCota Monk turns the second barrel on Famous Lemon Drop
DaCota Monk and Famous Lemon Drop winning the 2020 LG International Futurity. Photo by Kenneth Springer

While the two haven’t been partners for long, the Dunn Ranch-owned 5-year-old mare found futurity fame first with DaCota Monk, earning $92,903 in 2020. Started by Summer Hatch and trained for the futurities by Monk, she earned status as one of the leading futurity horses of 2020. Now with Hillman, she’s gone on to add $27,151—mostly in pro rodeo money—to her EquiStat lifetime earnings, bringing Lemon Drop’s EquiStat total to $131,936.95, not including the NFR earnings. 

Both Monk and the Dunns knew the mare would shine in the Thomas and Mack Center Arena when paired with Hillman’s ability as a jockey.

“I knew a win was coming—that’s the only thing she knows how to do,” Monk said. “She deserves this win; it’s hard to explain how this feels.”

—> DaCota Monk and Famous Lemon Drop win first round of 2020 Better Barrel Races World Finals Futurity

—> DaCota Monk and Famous Lemon Drop win Better Barrel Races World Finals Futurity Championship

Lemon Drop is one of several Dunn-owned horses that Hillman has ridden or is currently riding at professional rodeos, the most famous being MCM Imasharpguy (2012 gray gelding, A Sharp Frenchman x Mulberry Canyon Moon x Marthas Six Moons), whom Hillman has ridden to two NFR go-round wins—the first in 2019 in Round Nine and then 2020 in Round Ten. It seems the Dunn-Hillman partnership is a winning recipe. 

“I love my whole team,” Hillman said. “This is what I do for them, and they encourage and support it and love their horses being with us. We trust each other, and that’s a big deal in a partnership like that. We’re all a team that plays different roles, and I’m thankful for that.”

Round Three saw five teams drop from the average after downed barrels. Cheyenne Wimberley and VQ Sucker Punch drug down the second to turn what would have been a 13.55 to an 18.55 and move Wimberley from first in the average to seventh. The next pair previously in hot contention for the average was Hailey Kinsel and DM Sissy Hayday, however, they left the first barrel down turning a 13.63 to an 18.63 to bump Kinsel from second in the aggregate to eighth. 

With the round-win, Hillman moves into the No. 1 position in the aggregate with a time of 41.39 on three runs. Jordon Briggs moved to the No. 2 position in the aggregate with a time of 41.53 on three runs after finishing sixth in Round Three. 

Kinsel holds on to her first-place position in the WPRA world standings with $139,639.69, followed by Dona Kay Rule with $128,953.89. 

Round Three Results

Place, Name, Horse, Time, Money Won

  1. Stevi Hillman, Famous Lemon Drop, 13.70, $26,996.97
  2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Ima Famous Babe, 13.72, $21,336.32
  3. Ivy Saebens, KN Fabs Gift Of Fame, 13.73, $16,111.10
  4. Wenda Johnson, Steal Money, 13.77, $11,321.31
  5. Dona Kay Rule, High Valor, 13.78, $6,966.96
  6. Jordon Briggs, Famous Lil Jet, 13.83, $4,354.35
  7. Jessica Routier, Fiery Miss West, 13.85
  8. Amanda Welsh, Frenchman Fire Fly, 13.89
  9. Nellie Miller, Rafter W Minnie Reba, 13.92
  10. Molly Otto, Teasin Dat Guy, 14.18
  11. Cheyenne Wimberley, VQ Sucker Punch, 18.55*
  12. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 18.63*
  13. Emily Miller-Beisel, Namgis D 35, 18.88*
  14. Shelley Morgan, HR Fameskissandtell, 18.91*
  15. Lisa Lockhart, Prime Diamond, 19.08*
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi Ima Famous Babe
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and Ima Famous Babe finish second in Round Three of the Wrangler NFR with a 13.72, worth $21,336.32. Photo by Kenneth Springer
Ivy Saebens and KN Fabs Gift Of Fame
Ivy Saebens and KN Fabs Gift Of Fame finished third in Round Three of the 2021 Wrangler NFR with a 13.73, worth $16,11.10. Photo by Kenneth Springer

—> 2021 WPRA Top 15 Stats

—> 2021 NFR Horse Pedigrees

—> Blood, Sweat and Cheers: 2021 NFR Horse Struggle Stories

Aggregate Standings on Three Runs

Rank, Name, Aggregate Time

  1. Stevi Hillman, 41.39
  2. Jordon Briggs, 41.53
  3. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 41.54
  4. Amanda Welsh, 41.64
  5. Jessica Routier, 42.23
  6. Molly Otto, 42.28
  7. Cheyenne Wimberley, 46.17
  8. Hailey Kinsel, 46.29
  9. Emily Miller-Beisel, 46.65
  10. Shelley Morgan, 46.69
  11. Lisa Lockhart, 46.91
  12. Nellie Miller, 46.96
  13. Dona Kay Rule, 51.06
  14. Wenda Johnson, 51.41
  15. Ivy Saebens, 51.99

WPRA World Standings

Rank, Name, Hometown, Earnings

  1. Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, TX, $139,639.69
  2. Dona Kay Rule, Minco, OK, $128,953.89
  3. Jordon Briggs, Tolar, TX, $128,293.86
  4. Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, TX, $123,851.12
  5. Shelley Morgan, Eustace, TX, $120,340.43
  6. Cheyenne Wimberley, Stephenville, TX, $111,298.94
  7. Amanda Welsh, Gillette, WY, $111,086.12
  8. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Lampasas, TX, $105,122.02
  9. Ivy Saebens, Nowata, OK, $96,917.18
  10. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, SD, $96,380.03
  11. Wenda Johnson, Pawhuska, OK, $95,672.83
  12. Emily Miller-Beisel, Weatherford, OK, $94,794.45
  13. Jessica Routier, Buffalo, SD, $88,847.28
  14. Nellie Miller, Cottonwood, CA, $85,519.15
  15. Molly Otto, Grand Forks, ND, $74,172.51

Kailey Sullins is editor of Barrel Horse News, and an avid barrel racer and breakaway roper. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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