By BRAD KEITH
(July 19, 2015) — Even before her 20th birthday in August, Tarleton State University barrel racer Shelby Herrmann will likely find herself in the top 20 of the world standings.
Herrmann enjoyed the most profitable three-round performance of her career at the 100th annual Snake River Stampede in Nampa, Idaho that concluded Saturday, earning second in a round, fourth in the finals and fourth in the average for an impressive total of $8,597.
That’s a good week’s earnings from just about any perspective. Especially big for a rising young prospect who entered the week just $8,274.40 out of the top 15 for a coveted spot in the National Finals Rodeo two months before the qualifying deadline.
Since placing fourth in the finals and the average at the College National Finals Rodeo, Herrmann has been on a tear regardless which horse she is riding. She has ‘Doc,’ a transformed pole horse she has had since her junior year of high school in Orange Grove, about 40 miles northwest of Corpus Christi.
And now “TC,” a horse Herrmann recently bought, right away earned $1,129 in the opening round of the famed Reno Rodeo, just a week after the CNFR in June.
“I bought ‘TC’ the week of Reno and he was in the trailer for 36 or somewhat hours. We got him out as much as we could get him out, but really we got to Reno, got him out for two hours and off we went,” said Herrmann. “‘TC’ is a huge blessing to ‘Doc,’ because ‘Doc’ is a little older. Last year I just had ‘Doc,’ so it’s different having more horse power.”
And in July, Herrmann has continued the torrid pace, earning $1,273 in the Livingston (Mont.) Round-up then winning the championship at the Rooftop Rodeo (Colo.) for $3,403. At Nampa, she was second in the first round, earning $4,658 in 15.84 seconds. She took fourth in the finals, earning $575 in 16.18, and finished fourth in the average for $3,364.
It’s just the week she needed to make the NFR a realistic goal with two months remaining for additional earnings. Not that running at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas is all Herrmann is looking forward to.
“The NFR is definitely an ultimate goal, but I think it’s everybody’s goal if they’ve come out here and done this long enough,” says Herrmann, the answer a bit ironic since she’s one of the youngest competitors logging miles on the pro circuit. “It’s ultimately my goal, but right now, I”m just focused on qualifying for all the big rodeos, like Houston and San Antonio.”
She may find herself running barrels in rodeo’s 10 biggest rounds in Las Vegas before competing in Houston and San Antonio. She’s certainly making a strong NFR push.
“Yeah, I want to say that’s the most I’ve ever made in a week,” she said of the almost $8,600 won in Nampa. “Both my horses have been on a roll lately, so I’m just hoping they can keep it up.”
During the college finals in Casper, Wyoming, ‘Doc’ had an allergic reaction to feed, Herrmann explained.
“His face and legs swelled up through the week, but we pulled through,” she said. “It’s a shame because I really like the college finals, and my horse liked it a lot.”
Herrmann rode ‘Doc’ in two National High School finals and to the semifinals the last two years in RFD-TV’s The American.
“He was a pole horse when I bought him. I did both poles and barrels, but I hated polls so I worked with him on barrels,” said Herrmann. “Everyone loves ‘Doc,’ and anyone who knows him can tell you he’s a completely different horse now that he’s running barrels.”
Herrmann will keep both horses busy, competing Sunday morning in slack in the Ogden (Utah) Pioneer Days with Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days, Spanish Fork (Utah) Fiesta Days Rodeo, Three Days of 47 Salt Lake (Utah) and Red Desert Roundup (Wyo.) also on deck this week.
Such a demanding schedule is hard enough for the men out on tour. For a 19-year old young woman, family support goes a long way.
“My family is definitely the biggest part of it. They support me 100 percent. From the craziest things to the littlest things, they have no doubt I can do it,” Herrmann said. “I think sometimes they have even more faith in me than I do.”
Even while they are adjusting to not always being on scene with Herrmann.
“They aren’t used to not being at everything,” she laughed. “In high school my mom, dad, sister, both sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles would all be everything, and that’s just not possible now.”
Herrmann says regardless of her pro success or the demands of the pro circuit, she plans to continue competing for Tarleton.
“I love Tarleton and I love college rodeo,” she said. “I love the atmosphere and plan on continuing to rodeo for Tarleton. Unless something comes up where I just can’t, I will compete for Tarleton until I graduate. I love Tarleton rodeo, and the coaches, especially Coach Eakin. They are like another family for me.”
It took her just a year to fall in love with Tarleton. She’s spent her life loving rodeo.
“I love rodeo and barrel racing. It’s a great atmosphere, great people, everything about it is great,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine life without my horses or competing in barrels and rodeos.”
If she continues her current pace, it will be hard to imagine a list of barrel racing heavyweights being complete without the name Shelby Herrmann.