LAS VEGAS – In just her fourth rodeo, a talented 6-year-old redhead shined quite brightly during the first round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Her name is Lolo, and she’s a young sorrel mare who carried her jockey, Carlee Pierce of Edmond, Okla., to a fourth-place finish Thursday night in Las Vegas. Pierce and Lolo rounded the cloverleaf pattern in 14.29 seconds to collect the $7,969 payday in the sport’s richest event.
“I think for this being her fourth rodeo every, she did awesome with room to improve,” said Pierce, a three-time NFR qualifier who grew up in Freedom, Okla. “I’m pretty stoked that we didn’t tip a barrel.”
More than 17,000 fans pack into the Thomas & Mack Center every night for the 10-round championship. The atmosphere is electric, and even the greatest animal athlete can struggle inside such an arena. Throw in the fact that Lolo is still a filly, and the biggest stage in the game can be overpowering.
Fortunately for Pierce, her young mount passed the test. In the process, she moved from 13th to eight in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association’s world standings.
“It’s exciting to be back in Las Vegas for the NFR,” she said. “It’s really exciting to be riding these awesome young horses here.”
In addition to Lolo, she has Tiny, a 5-year-old sorrel mare. The young animals are proof that Pierce has a strong stable of solid horses.
She also has a strong support system in the form of her family. In fact, Pierce missed the 2013 NFR when she opted to spend more time at home than on the rodeo trail. She was the No. 3 cowgirl in the world when she ventured home to spend more time with her family.
Now she’s focused in on getting her fair share of the $6.375 million purse that’s up for grabs in Las Vegas.
“When you rodeo for a living, you know how important it is to not only be at the NFR but do well here,” said Pierce, who did very well in her first two trips to Las Vegas in 2011-12. “I’m really excited to share this with my husband and my children.”