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Mother & Daughter Follow Similar Paths To Gold

May 6, 2022

Mother & Daughter Follow Similar Paths To Gold

By Johna Cravens and Susan Kanode

History was made at the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) when Jordon Briggs won the barrel racing world title. 

Her mother, Kristie Peterson, accumulated four of those and they are in the record books as the first mother and daughter to have accomplished that goal. We know that rodeo moms do let their children grow up to be cowboys and cowgirls and for that we are grateful. So, we thought this would be a good time to learn more about Kristie and Jordon. 

Jordon Briggs edged three-time world champion Hailey Kinsel in the final round in the Thomas and Mack Center when she crossed the finish line with all three barrels standing. Jordon came into round 10 with a 4.7-second overall lead after placing in all but one round, winning round eight, and tying for first in round nine. 

Jordon Briggs and her horse Famous Lil Jet “Rollo” won round eight and placed multiple times at the 2021 NFR on the way to her first world title. PRCA photo by Phill Kitts.

Riding Famous Lil Jet, a seven-year-old sorrel gelding, Jordon was the only barrel racer with nine clean runs. She knew if she could leave the barrels standing in round 10, she would win her first NFR championship and be in contention for a gold buckle. That may sound simple, but it isn’t.

 “You can’t safety up in the barrel racing, because that’s when you really mess up,” Jordon said, adding that after she turned the third barrel in round 10, she was smiling all the way to the finish line. Defending world champion Hailey Kinsel was in the lead for the world title going into the last round. Hailey ran before Jordon and knocked over the first barrel. From the crowd’s reaction, Jordon knew a clean run would get her average and world championship titles.

Not only did she leave Las Vegas with both trophy buckles, she set a new record for the fastest time over 10 rounds of 136.83 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 137.32 set by Nellie Miller in 2017.

Jordon came to Las Vegas focused on the average; an attitude heavily influenced by her mother—ProRodeo Hall of Fame honoree Kristie Peterson. Kristie won the barrel racing average at Thomas & Mack an amazing five years in a row in the 1990s.

“Mom was very average-minded,” Jordon said. “She had to make a living at what she did, and the purses were smaller then. Her mindset was to win a check every time you run and to pick a horse that’s going to place 90 percent of the time.”

Jordon and Kristie are the first mother and daughter to win the NFR average in barrel racing, and as the first to win world championships, they are in lofty company. Since the NFR began in 1959, eight fathers and their sons have won NFR championships in individual events. And out of 854 world titles awarded in professional rodeo since 1929, there have only been nine fathers who got gold buckles to be followed by their 10 sons in the same event. That includes Cody Wright and his two sons that have won in saddle bronc riding. 

Three other pairs have won world titles in different events. Cory Petska, who won the team roping heeling 2017, followed his footsteps of his family including his mother, Gail, who was the barrel racing world champion in 1972 and 1973. Cory won the average in 2005 and his father, Paul, won it in 1986 roping with Cory’s uncle, Monty Joe Petska. 

Kristie Peterson put Elbert, Colorado on the map after winning the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo in 1992, riding a five-year-old gelding named French Flash Hawk that she called Bozo. 

She worked full-time for the local Sheriff’s Department and was mom to two teenagers (Justin and Jaime) and toddler (Jordon.) Kristie qualified for her first National Finals Rodeo in 1993, ranked fourth. That year Charmayne James and Scamper were aiming for their 10th world title. Kristie came close to spoiling rodeo history, finishing second after knocking over a barrel in the ninth round.

Jordon Briggs started traveling to rodeos as a youngster with her world champion barrel racing mom, Kristie Peterson. WPRA photo by Kenneth Springer.

She and husband Chuck purchased Bozo as a two-year-old for $400 in 1989. Chuck put the first rides on him before Kristie trained him for barrel racing. They won the Barrel Futurities of America World Championship Derby and Sweepstakes in 1992 along with her first of 11 Mountain States Circuit titles.

Kristie and Bozo qualified for eight NFRs in a row, winning the world four times (1994, 1996-1998) along with five NFR averages. They finished as reserve world champion three times. In 80 trips around the barrels at the Thomas & Mack Center, she and Bozo earned 66 paychecks (that was when rounds paid four places.) They won 14 NFR rounds and only knocked over two barrels with 59 clean runs in between. They placed in 22 consecutive NFR rounds from 1995 to 1997. After breaking that streak by finishing out of the money in the first round of the 1998 NFR, they placed in 17 more rounds in a row.

“He loved running down that alley – the noise,” Kristie recalled. “He was a big ole showoff!”

Bozo was named AQHA/WPRA Barrel Racing Horse of the Year five times and four times was voted WPRA Horse with the Most Heart. Kristie and Bozo were inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame together in 2018, the second year that WPRA competitors were included.

“Bozo and I were pretty much the same age,” Jordon said. “We used to joke that we were kind of like brother and sister – we grew up together.” When Bozo left pro rodeos, he still had plenty left to give and gave it to Jordon. She started riding him when she was 12 and Bozo was 13. Just after that they moved to Texas and still make their home near Tolar.  

Jordon was four years old when she made the first trip to Las Vegas. She laughs when she says she has probably run more barrels in Vegas than anyone, just on a stick horse and around Styrofoam cups.

Her first time to actually run around barrels in Las Vegas was in 2009 when she was 21, riding a horse called Frenchman’s Jester that she and Kristie trained together. They won one round and placed in five others, finishing sixth.

“I was so young,” Jordon said. “I grew up in that world and thought – that’s the way my life is supposed to be. So, I probably took it for granted.”

With her wedding to Justin Briggs, a two-time College National Finals Rodeo team roper, coming in the spring of 2010, Jordon sold Jester after the NFR. The couple invested the money in buying colts since she really liked the training process. They started Briggs Performance Horses and over the past decade she has earned more than $1 million at futurities on their horses.

“Our business is training and selling futurity horses, starting over and doing it again,” Jordon said. “Justin made rope horses out of the ones that didn’t make barrel horses,” she added. “Most of the ones I sold as amazing barrel horses were just as good as rope horses, but nobody knows it.”

The Briggs bought Famous Lil Jet as a yearling. “We picked him out strictly on his looks, then found out his breeding (he’s a son of leading barrel racing sire Dash Ta Fame), fell in love with him and had to have him.” They called the colt Rollo.

“Justin and I both knew he was special,” Jordon said. “I ended up saving him as a futurity horse until he was five because I got pregnant.” Justin took Rollo to roping futurities for three years and Jordon had solid barrel racing futurity and derby years with him in 2019 and 2020. 

“Rollo could come to the NFR in the heading,” Justin told The Team Roping Journal’s Kendra Santos in December. “He’s that good. He’s the real deal.”

After entering 14 rodeos and finishing 50th in the WPRA in 2020, Jordon and Rollo started 2021 placing at Odessa, Texas, and qualifying for San Antonio. Then Jordon broke her ankle. “I tore all the tendons away from the bone and was on a knee scooter for two and a half months after surgery. I tried to ride, but there was no way. I had to turn out at San Antonio and The American Semi Finals.”

During that time, the Briggs almost sold Rollo. “It (the offer) was life-changing money,” Jordon said. “I was at physical therapy that day, learning to walk again and called Justin. I was crying and I said, ‘I just can’t do it.’ He was in the middle of putting fresh shoes on him for the vet check and he was crying, too. We said – we aren’t going to do it.”

That decision lit a fire under Jordon. She was confident in Rollo’s ability and knew he was special. They competed for a year and a half without knocking over a barrel, a rare feat. Her instinct was right and he was named AQHA-WPRA Nutrena Barrel Horse of the Year.

“I always said – I’m not going to be the mom that leaves my kid at home and goes and rodeos, blah, blah, blah,” Jordon said. “Then I remembered, I was never that kid that my mom left at home. I went with her to dang near every rodeo. I had a blast the way I grew up.”

She and Rollo started rodeoing in April. In May they split the win at Guymon, Oklahoma. She was able to put weight on her ankle but was playing catch up in the world standings. So, Jordon loaded up her mom and her daughter Bexley, who turned three during that time, and started a summer rodeo run.  

“Mom was with me for three weeks. We had a lot of fun, and she was really good for me. Even when I was just barely placing over the Fourth—Rollo and I were still getting our feet wet—she would tell me ‘You and your horse are good enough to not have to over-enter,’” Jordon said. “As we just kept getting better and better, the less rodeos I felt like I needed to enter.”

Kristie said the summer trip felt new. “It’s just different now. You have to be more aware of everything around you as you travel. And the parking is a lot more difficult with everyone having bigger trailers. At my age, I just want to have fun. We did a lot of sightseeing in between rodeos. She’s an intense competitor and I think I’m good for her because I make her mellow out a bit.”

Both women appreciate that horses like Bozo and Rollo are rare. “These special horses do not happen every day,” Kristie said. “You want to be very respectful of them. Jordon knows Rollo like a book.” Although their personalities are quite different, Kristie still sees echoes of Bozo in Rollo.

“What I see is a horse that really loves the game because they run good in most ground and any situation – indoor, outside, small pen, big pen – that is the common denominator between them. They love it and they’ll do it anywhere in any conditions,” she said.

Like mother, like daughter
  • won world championships at their second NFR.
  • won the NFR average to propel them to their first world title.
  • Bought horses as youngsters and trained them before winning world titles.
  • competed in less than 60 rodeos in their first championship seasons.
  • set a new NFR record for fastest total time at their second NFR (Jordon’s was on two horses.) 
  • their horses won AQHA/WPRA Horse of the Year
  • have more than $1 million in career earnings in barrel racing 
  • their award-winning horses are known for penalty-free runs

While their barrel racing careers have some impressive parallel accomplishments, Kristie described the biggest difference between them.

“I’m a one-horse girl. I get one horse; I bond completely with that horse, and I ride that horse. I cannot ride three or four or five horses and do justice to them all,” Kristie said. “Jordon can. She instills so much confidence in a horse at a young age. It’s crazy. I guess it’s because she’s so consistent, she knows the feel she wants, and she consistently asks for it. Eventually they communicate and then she does it consistently all the time. For me to get that takes me working until a horse is six or seven years old.”

Both women will have time to celebrate Mother’s Day as Jordon and Rollo are taking a break before starting their summer in Reno in June. Jordon, who leads the 2022 world standings, will still be competing on younger horses at futurities. 

Kristie Peterson was the first in her family to win a gold buckle. She is holding her granddaughter, Bexley, and standing next to her daughter, Jordon Briggs the current world champion barrel racer. Jordon’s husband, Justin on the right, also had a hand in his wife’s success. He put the first rides on Rollo that took Jordon to her first gold buckle. WPRA photo by Kenneth Springer.

Kristie has eight granddaughters and a grandson and all of them have had a chance to enjoy horses. When we talked to Kristie she was at Jordon’s. 

“Jaime, my older daughter, is here right now helping Bexley with her new pony,” Kristie said. “Jamie’s my vacation daughter, we go on vacation and to plays together. “

“Bexley loves horses, “Jordon said. “I just want her to be interested, learn how to ride, and not throw competition at her yet. She loves to feed them cookies. That’s another reason I didn’t sell Rollo – now that I’m the age I am and know how valuable these horses are, especially ones that make a living for your family and change your life — If she wants to be as competitive as I was at 12 and wants to go that route, I want her to be able to run Rollo.”

Jordon sums up the difference between her and her mom this way. “Bozo lasted a long time – then she was done. She was ok with that being her horse and her time. I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying to train the next Rollo.”