Sister and Me

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

Knock on wood, but so far this year has been smooth sailing. Sister is healthy and on the right track, and I’m currently first in the standings.

by Nellie Miller
 
 

I remember the first day I ever swung a leg over Sister. I’d just had my first baby, and I was visiting my parents in Cottonwood, California, just north of Red Bluff. Sister was around four years old. Her mother, Reba, was the horse I high-school rodeoed on. My dad had recently started running Sister through the barrels. Just get on her, he told me.

I rode around not doing anything serious. Dad said, Run her through the pattern. She took off and just about turned out from underneath me on that first barrel. I was, like, Holy cow! She already knows what she’s doing. The first minute I was on her I felt her greatness.

The main thing I took away from that experience was her confidence. From Day One, Sister’s never been scared of anything. If you give her a job to do, she’s, like, Oh, I can do that, and I can do it really good.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen


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Sister is beautiful. She’s a blue roan. She’s put together perfectly—not too big but not tiny, either. She moves real smoothly. She hardly looks like she’s running, but she is. I’ll be honest—she makes my job easy. I don’t have to worry about her doing anything out of the ordinary. She’s just so consistent. I know she’ll go into the arena every time and do the same thing, which takes a load off my mind.

Sister’s strong. She never weakens on me. I’ve never come out of the arena and thought she didn’t try her hardest. Sister’s the most honest horse you could ask for. She has never let me down.

I didn’t know how good Sister was until I won the world title on her in 2017. There are great horses, and then there are horses you can win the gold buckle on.

Sister is eleven years old. Dad always told me horses don’t get good till they’re ten, so she’s pretty perfect now. We always tend to bring them along a little slower than most people. I think they last longer and are more mature if you wait a little while to run them.

If it were a perfect world, I’d have two great horses and could swap back and forth between them. Come to think of it, things have worked out pretty ideally. I think having the one horse has helped us bond. I spend a lot of time with that horse. You’re basically living with them. You feed them and haul them and take care of them. You do everything for them. You get to where you know them like a person. Having that one-on-one attention has helped us be successful.

Last year, we had a good season, but we struggled in Vegas at the National Finals Rodeo. That was hard. Things weren’t lining up for us. It seemed like anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I hit a couple barrels. We just weren’t ourselves.

Knock on wood, but so far this year has been smooth sailing. I’m currently first in the standings. Sister is healthy and on the right track. We’re pretty dialed in to one another.

Vegas is always in the back of your mind. I don’t want to get caught up in it too much. I’m trying to take things one day at a time. If things go well in Vegas this year, they go well. If they don’t, they don’t.

I try not to get too wrapped up in it either way.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen


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