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Super Semis

The slowly rising sun, chilled air and sparse stands make an early-morning slack run sound easy in comparison to the adrenaline-filled atmosphere of a packed, late-night rodeo.

But when there’s $2 million on the line, the stakes are high—even if it is a slack ride. Such was the case the morning of February 21 in Mesquite, Texas, at the RFDTV’s The American Rodeo Semifinals.

Among the crowd of other accomplished horses and riders at The American Semifinals slack was Ronnie Will of Silt, Colorado, and Super Devotion, a 2006 bay solid mare by Im Devoted Too and out of Estella.

Aboard “Amara,” Ronnie became one of the first barrel racers to qualify for The American. The duo earned their qualification to the semifinals with a smoking :16.30 run at the Better Barrel Races Western Regional Tour Finale held in Loveland, Colorado, on September 23.

“I made my husband decide which of my two runs—open or slot—would be my qualifying run, and he wasn’t allowed to tell me,” Ronnie said. “Luckily, I had a good run in the open, and that was the run he’d picked as my qualifier.”

Running 16th in the slack order, the pair needed a fast, clean run—something out of the grasp of many riders thanks to a number of knocked barrels. Running a right-handed pattern, the pair whipped out a tight first barrel but emerged wide from the second before heading to a clean third barrel—ending with a :15.756.ronnie-barrel

Just :0.2 seconds shy of finishing in the top 20 slack performances, Ronnie was eliminated from advancement to the semifinals performance. Still, the cowgirl had nothing but praise for her fleet-footed partner.

“My husband got Amara for me as a 2-year-old, and I didn’t know anything about her—all she did was run and spin—but he saw something good in her,” Ronnie said. “I took her along slowly and she’s turned out to be a really nice mare. She has an attitude, but she tries her heart out. It would be great if I could have more horses like her.

“To get to the semifinals was just awesome—even though I didn’t advance, just getting to the semifinals has been an amazing journey. The American is fun, it’s a great new experience and I can’t wait to see how the rodeo grows in the future.”

The months of excitement have built up to the main event on March 2; RFDTV’s The American is the richest one-day rodeo in history, offering up a purse of $2 million to contestants who made it through qualifying and semifinal rounds. Adding to the hype are the invited rodeo superstars, who will also compete for the championship titles.

Included amongst the industry titans is Trevor Brazile, who rode Pine Time Boogie, a 2001 brown sorrel solid stallion by Pine Time and out of Tender Moments, to the 2013 National Finals Rodeo tie-down championship.

Other Paint connections include team roper Nick Sartain, son of halter industry icon Terry Sartain; APHA member Robyn Herring; and barrel racers Kay Blandford, Michele McLeod and Erin Ricotti—each of whom has at least one registered Paint in their barns according to APHA records, though they will likely ride different horses.

Be sure to cheer on your APHA family members as they chase history at The American. Visit RFDTV to learn more about The American and its televised schedule.