In The Arena, Leigh/Anne Corner

OTRR LEVEL UP – STEVI HILLMAN PROFESSIONAL BARREL RACER

If you are new to our Level Up Series, please check out the other interviews here. 

Tell us about your background:

I grew up in Ordway Colorado just riding horses on my grandparents farm. I always had to ‘train’ my own in order to run barrels. My step dad trained and showed AQHA, he couldn’t hardly work a horse in the round pen or go rope without me right there hot on his heels (Haha). I loved watching him do anything with a horse and that is definitely where I learned the fundamentals and greatly appreciate his willingness to teach me. From there I knew I loved training and wanted to go where the best horses were and learn as much as I could. My ultimate goal was to rodeo but I knew that wasn’t going to be my source of income.

I moved to Texas for college and for the horses, and of course the rodeo atmosphere. I was blessed to work for some amazing trainers from Cutting Horses and Reining, to Polo Players. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything! (One thing that was very important to me personally was a college degree, so I had to put training/competing on hold for a little bit. I chose Radiology because of its flexibility and I loved the medical field. I finished that and then started pursuing training barrel horses again).  I always tell people, if you want to learn about training and become a better rider, ride as many horses as possible. That helps develop a ‘feel’ for a horse.

Just like any other business you have to start out with what you are given and figure out how to make it grow. I can tell you that without those not so fun horses, I wouldn’t have learned certain important things. You have to find the good and grow your 1% daily, that’s success. (I didn’t know this ‘term’ then but that’s exactly what I was doing). So I did, I took what I learned and just kept pushing forward. I am blessed to say, I have the best colts and open horses I’ve ever had, but I can tell you plenty of stories of the ones that really stretched me as a trainer and competitor. If you just remember, everything (your business, your relationships, etc) is based on your attitude, that’s truly the only thing you have control over. Today, I continue to strive to grow and learn more and more. What a blessing it is to be living ‘the dream’. I absolutely love to train young horses as well as be a professional barrel racer and encourage others.  Be courageous in following your dreams and passions and never give up.

Did you start out to be a horse trainer or did you specifically create your business around being a futurity trainer?

I started out just training from what I learned from my step dad and all those trainers I worked for, watching barrel trainer videos and then put it all in the barrel pattern. I learned what to use and what not to use from what I learned! From here I believe a person starts figuring out what works for them, your own unique style. There are so many ways to train a barrel horse, you just have to know what works for you. Becoming specific in my training I think has allowed me the opportunity to be more of a Futurity trainer. Although my Futurity training may take longer because my goal in the end is to have a solid rodeo horse.  You have to know what your goal is with each individual horse.


How did you take your skills and your back ground and turn it in to a business?

When creating a business you take out strategies and plans that don’t work as well and you become specific in your profession. I feel I have been creating this for years and will continue to refine it more and more every year.
But, our business isn’t just training horses, it’s doing life with people. We want to train people also. This is just our platform to reach the people.

Did you know you could be a successful horse trainer or did it just develop over time?

I was always told when I was young that I had a gift and could ride and I truly believed it. I believed in myself from the beginning. Any successful trainer is developed over time and the best never stop growing and learning.

What was one failure you would like to redo when it comes to your business?

To not be so hard on myself when things didn’t work exactly as I planned and to have focused on how it could have been done better, then move on. I would tell people to surround themselves with the people they want to be most like and that has had the success they want. Also I would advise to not waste too much time/energy on horses or relationships that drag you down and don’t allow you to grow. For example, if a certain horse creates an issue in your confidence, step back and make sure that’s the right horse for you. Certain horses fit certain people….  If you are really focused on building a business, then do something everyday that gets you one step closer to that goal.

Stay tuned for more from Stevi Hillman next week! While you wait.. sign up for our enewsletter to stay in the loop!