Famous Lil Jet is the 2022 Nutrena Barrel Racing Horse of the Year presented by AQHA

Famous Lil Jet is the 2022 Nutrena Barrel Racing Horse of the Year presented by AQHA

After Round 7 of the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, "Rollo" and Jordon Briggs are still leading the barrel racing world standings.

Girl in green shirt on sorrel horse name Famous Lil Jet barrel racing.

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

By Lane Karney and Kendra Santos

By a vote of the best barrel racers on earth, Famous Lil Jet just went back-to-back as the Nutrena Barrel Racing Horse of the Year, presented by AQHA. Jordon Briggs and her husband, Justin, a horseshoer and horse-training partner in their Tolar, Texas-based Briggs Performance Horses, bought “Rollo” as a yearling from his breeders, Jeff and Andrea Busby’s Busby Quarter Horses. They built him into a barrel horse extraordinaire the old-fashioned way. 

“Justin puts the first rides on all our horses,” Jordon says. “He headed and heeled on Rollo and had success on him at the rope-horse futurity. I had planned to ride Rollo at the barrel horse futurities as a 4-year-old but found out I was pregnant with our daughter, Bexley, so I waited a year. I won $555,000 on Rollo as a 5-year-old at the barrel horse futurities. We’ve had a lot of offers, and selling horses is our business. But I just couldn’t make myself sell Rollo.”

Rollo is a 2014 sorrel gelding by Dash Ta Fame and out of Blazin Black Beauty by Blazin Jetolena. Racehorse-turned-barrel-horse-sire Dash Ta Fame has sired 3,500 American Quarter Horse foals, 1,250 of which have started on the racetrack and won more $19 million. Dash Ta Fame’s progeny have also brought in more than $30.5 million in barrel racing earnings, according to AQHA’s QData. Famous Lil Jet is Dash Ta Fame’s leading progeny with $797,052 in career earnings.

Bexley is 4 now. Rollo’s still only 8, and after he and Jordon won last year’s world barrel racing crown, they are again the leaders of the pack riding into the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Jordon and Rollo have a $50,000 lead over the field, which is led by Dona Kay Rule and High Valor. Not coincidentally, “Valor” is the reserve 2022 Nutrena Barrel Racing Horse of the Year. Ty and Stevi Hillman’s Cuatro Fame, aka “Truck,” is Dash Ta Fame’s second-leading progeny by earnings and finished third in the horse of the year voting. 

Jordon only rode Rollo at 50 rodeos during the 2021 regular rodeo season, which runs October 1 to September 30. They trumped that by only competing at 31 regular-season rodeos in 2022. Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racers are allowed to count up to 100 rodeos toward the world standings, and this talented tandem didn’t even go to a third of what’s allowed. They didn’t need to. 

“Winning Houston (in March and the $60,000 that went with it) allowed me to really pick and choose where I wanted to go this year,” Jordon says.  She also learned this year that barrel racers must compete at a minimum of 25 rodeos in the regular season to be NFR-eligible. “I’d won third at Fort Worth and fourth at San Antonio, then we won Houston. 

“I won about $95,000 at those three rodeos, so I pretty much had the Finals made and only went to the bigger rodeos the rest of the year. Winning Houston changed my whole game plan. It gave me a lot of freedom and let me give Rollo big vacations. I gave him two months off after Houston, two months off after Dodge City (in August), and he has had a nice break this fall. It’s my duty to take care of Rollo, and winning early like that let me do that.”

Jordon’s minimalist strategy is no surprise to any of us who watched her Hall of Fame mom, Kristie Peterson, win four gold buckles on her dream horse, French Flash Hawk, aka “Bozo,” while averaging only 35 rodeos a year. Kristie and Bozo won the NFR average five straight years from 1994-98. Jordon returned to the NFR last year for the first time since 2009, and she and Rollo won both the NFR average and their first world championship. Interestingly, it was the first time Jordon got into the limited-entry big winter rodeos, because she has never rodeoed two years in a row before, and getting into them is based on earnings from the previous season. 

“Bozo was my mom’s only horse for eight years in a row, and I watched my mom treat him like family,” Jordon says. “I would be beyond grateful for Rollo to last as long as Bozo did. I didn’t think Rollo could get any better than he was last year, then he did it this year. He knows his job so well, and he’s so consistent. Rollo loves it. He’s a big puppy dog, and he knows that every day is all about him. Rollo is my Bozo.”

Justin doesn’t compete on Rollo anymore, but he does still rope on him at home “to keep him in shape and using his butt good.”

Defending world champs Jordon and Rollo are rolling right back to Vegas to defend their title. 

“He had a lot of highlights last year when we set the new NFR average record and won the world,” Jordon says. “To do that at his first NFR was amazing. I’m a little nervous to try to fill those shoes again. It was a lot more fun to have no expectations and just be happy to be there. I wake up every morning so grateful for this horse and am just so excited to get to ride Rollo every day. I love him so much, and here he is making a living for my family, just like Bozo did for my mom and dad’s family. Horses like Bozo and Rollo are family.”