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WPRA Barrel Racer Tillar Murray heading to her first National Finals Rodeo


Tillar Murray ended the 2017 rodeo season sitting 12th in the standings securing her first National Finals Rodeo! Here she talks about her year, her horses and her excitement for the Finals!


Please tell us about your outstanding year! Talk us through your highs and your lows. 

If you had asked me this time last year my plans for the 2017 season I probably would have told you I was going to take it easy and study abroad during the summer. Commander was out for the first few months of the season and Tic Tac got hurt at San Antonio. However, as rodeo goes, things can turn around for the better or worse very quickly. Commander came back strong and won the first two rounds of Austin and placed second in the final round. I bought Dirty Dan right before Houston and he won the Helldorado days in Las Vegas a few weeks later. I decided to go for it and give it my best during the summer. Throughout the summer Dirty Dan continued to succeed all expectations. When I got hurt at Sheridan in July, I felt as though I may not be able to make it anymore. However, my horses took care of me and we managed to stay in there. Although there were many hard times throughout the season, it was filled with many times I will never forget.


Please tell us about the horses you will be taking with you to Vegas and what makes them so special?

I will be taking Dirty Dan Stinson (“Dirty Dan”) Royal Star Commander (“Commander”), and Lil Gracie’s Dude (“Tic Tac”). All three horses are really special to me in different ways. I have had Tic Tac since middle school. I never planned to even compete professionally until after college. Truthfully, I always thought by the time I had a chance to qualify for the NFR Tic Tac would be too old to run. What a dream come true to get to run the horse at the NFR that started it all – I love him dearly. Commander can run faster and has more talent than any horse I will probably ever have the chance to ride. He tends to be a little spooky and inconsistent, but his ability often makes up for it. Dirty Dan just continues to amaze us all and has exceeded every possible expectation. Houston Rodeo was his very first rodeo to compete at and he won a check. He is everything you can possibly want in a 6 year old and handled his first year on the rodeo road so well.


You will be making 10 runs in 10 days. How will you prepare your horse before the run each night and what will you do to take care of him/her after the run?

Whenever we are out on the road we usually go through the same routine for each horse and the NFR will be no different. Thankfully Josey Groves and Martha Wright will be there to help take care of the horses. I couldn’t imagine trying to do it without the two of them. It takes so much work to keep horses feeling their best on the road and I am so thankful to have the two of them, who love my horses like their own. We will ice the horses before every run, laser, nebulize, use the biopulse blanket, and try to do everything possible to keep them feeling their best.


What are you most excited about  going in to your first NFR and what are you most nervous about?

I’ve dreamed of running down the Thomas and Mack for as long as I can remember. I am sure the nerves will hit me once I am there, but, as of now, it is pure excitement.

What advice would you give to someone that is wanting to make their dream of making the NFR come true?

I have always been a perfectionist and extremely critical of my self. While it has often pushed me to work harder and try harder, it has also been self defeating at moments. I have learned that while you can still be critical of yourself, you must always have a deeper self confidence that you can overcome any of your weaknesses. Never limit yourself by your present ability or present condition. You never know when the right horse or opportunity will come along that will allow your abilities to shine.

We are wishing you the best of luck, Tillar!! Thank you for talking to On the Rodeo Road!

Photos were provided to OTRR by Tillar Murray. 

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