Barrel Horse News Rodeo Insider — Rodeo Insider January 2011
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Meet Nikki Steffes
Laura Lambert

At just 23, Nikki Steffes is well beyond her years in both the barrel racing and academic arenas. Not only is this young lady a talented all around rodeo competitor, she just completed a molecular biology degree and has plans to attend dental school at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. With a trailer full of incredible barrel horses in tow, Steffes is a name you should expect to see in the results on a regular basis since she is taking some time to hit the rodeo trail this winter.

Question: What’s been the biggest thrill you’ve had as a professional barrel racer?

Answer: I would have to say winning the first round of Odessa on a pretty green horse that had never been under that kind of pressure. She (Dash Ta Vanilla) went from $25 jackpots to winning the first round at Odessa. Running against that caliber of horses and winning like that was pretty exciting.

Q: Do you have an off-season or chance to take a vacation from barrel racing?

A: This is kind of my first real experience as being a full-time barrel racer as I just graduated from college in May of 2009, went to some rodeos last summer and then worked as a dental assistant in the fall. So, I guess I wouldn’t say that I have had a vacation quite yet.

Q: Can you name the favorite horses of your career?

A: My grey horse, Captain Mitos Legacy. He is a 10-year-old gelding by Frenchmans Guy and out of a mare I ran in high school, Mitos Silver Bell. We raised him from a baby and he was my first futurity horse. He was not always the best horse and has been a challenge. I would say that he is my favorite because we have worked through so much and now he has been successful. Of course, then I would say Dash Ta Vanilla because she is just incredible.

Q: What items must you have in your gear bag/tack compartment?

A: I have to have the right bit. I’ve been to a few rodeos and forgotten the right bit for my horse and that is not very much fun.

Q: What music or piece of technology helps you get by on the road?

A: Sirius satellite radio

Q: What do you feed?

A: Woody’s Feed.

Q: Who’s on your team?

A: My horse shoer is Patrick Auer from Spearfish, South Dakota. He has shod my horses since I was little. My vet is Dr. Ismay from Sturgis, South Dakota. My dad is definitely on my team because very rarely do I ever make any kind of decision before talking it over with him first. Alan Wood bury of Woody’s Feed is a big part of my team right now. I’m really blessed to get to ride his horses.

Q: What do you do when you’re not running barrels?

A: I guess drive! My life is pretty full of barrel racing right now. When I’m not on the road I love to be home on the ranch with my dad working cattle.

Q: What do enjoy most about being on the road?

A: All of the people that I meet. I really have gotten to meet some great people. I like to visit with people and I like hearing people’s stories. I think everyone has an interesting story.

Q: If you could change anything in Barrel racing, what would it be?

A: I guess right now because I’m new to the professional rodeos I would say limited rodeos.

Q: Goals?

A: I try to go for first place every time but given the caliber of horses on the road today that is impossible. I want to do the best I can Every time and not just run my horses legs off. I want to pick and choose where I go doing the best I can. I want to have a great attitude and let the chips fall where they may.