A special barrel racing horse is a winner in North Platte.

Truck is a barrel racing horse owned by and cared for by Stevi Hillman of Weatherford, Texas, and for five of the six years the bay gelding has come to the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte, he’s won money.

In fact, the duo set the arena record in 2017, at 17.17 seconds, the first of their two first-place finishes. Their second first-place finish was in 2022, with a 17.44 second run.

Truck and Hillman finished in second in 2021 (17.46 seconds); got 11th place in 2020 (17.66 seconds) and in 2016, finished in sixth place (17.71 seconds.)

Stevi Hillman aboard Truck in 2022, the second year the duo won the Buffalo Bill Rodeo. Photo by Don Christner.

The horse, who is 17-years-old this year, loves running barrels, and especially loves running in big outdoor pens, Hillman said.

He’s always ready to rodeo, especially in the spring.

The Buffalo Bill Rodeo is the unofficial kickoff to the busy summer rodeo run, and Truck knows it.

“I think some of it is it’s the first time we’re getting on a trailer, and taking off for the summer, and he’s excited, fresh, happy, and ready to go,” Hillman said. “I really think that’s part of it.”

He has quite the personality, Hillman said.

“He’s hilarious, and he’s very needy. He loves to be pampered.” Hillman’s mother-in-law, Ceri Artzer, treats him with a machine that applies electro-therapy, electrical impulses that stimulate muscles and tissue.

“He absolutely eats that up,” she said. “He knows, when she comes to get him, what is going to happen.”

He also does not like to share attention.

“He does not like to see anybody else get petted or get cookies,” Hillman laughed. “He gets depressed when I’m home and riding other horses. He’s a hoot.”

Hillman has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo eight times, but has only ridden Truck there one year.

He does not like the smaller arenas with long alleys, which is the setup at the Thomas and Mack Arena, the home of the National Finals.

When Truck is in an alley, he’s ready to run, and she had to hold him back at the Thomas and Mack.

“That is hard on him and he gets stressed in that alley, so I didn’t take him back there after that.

“He’s a good-strided, fast-running horse that prefers room to get running. Once we learned that about him, we quit taking him to small arenas.”

Hillman will have three other horses in her trailer when she comes to the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.

Her second horse, Bridget, was her backup horse at the 2023 National Finals Rodeo. She’ll also have two young five-year-old mares who need seasoning.

She and her husband, Ty, raise and train barrel horses. Their stud, TSH Pendleton, is the foundation of their program.

Hillman likes competing at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.

“I like the setup, and the committee is really nice there. You can put pens up, too. It’s nice to start the summer season that way, when committees are nice and have good ground. It makes it refreshing and makes us feel good about leaving.”

Truck’s registered name is Cuatro Fame; his sire is Dash Ta Fame, a famous barrel racing stud; his dam goes back to Streakin Six, another famous barrel racing horse.

Truck is Hillman’s “gold child,” she said. “He’s my good old faithful, my reliable. I know what he’s going to do, every run.”

Hillman and Truck will compete on June 13, the second night of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte.

The Buffalo Bill Rodeo will run from June 12-15 at the Wild West Rodeo Arena. Showtime is 8 p.m. nightly.

Tickets range in price from $11-$24 and can be purchased online at NebraskalandDays.com, at the NebraskalandDays office, and at the gate.

For more information and a complete schedule of NebraskalandDays events, visit the website or call the office at 308.532.7939.

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