Going to the American: Hanson Advances from Western Region  | TSLN.com

Going to the American: Hanson Advances from Western Region 

Taylor Hanson at the Blitz in Bowman ND Day 2. Photo by Josh Homer/Burning Ember Photography. Photo credit must be given on all uses.

Taylor Hanson and her mare, Daisy, will compete in the next qualifying round of The American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas on March 9. Teton Ridge | courtesy photo

Last weekend was a hectic–and lucrative–one for Taylor Hanson of St. Onge, South Dakota. Not only did she have two futurity colts running at the Royal Crown event in Buckeye, Arizona, she was also entered in the American Qualifier in Heber City, Utah. Her collective efforts paid off: all of her horses won money, and she is advancing to the American Contender Finals of RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas on March 9.  

Treacherous winter weather threw into doubt whether Hanson and her mare, Daisy, would get their chance to run at all. She and her mother were traveling to Heber City when I-80 was suddenly closed between Rawlins and Rock Springs. They sat in their rig for six hours, contemplating whether to go home or to wait it out. Finally, the interstate was opened again and Hanson arrived at Heber City at midnight. She and “French Kiss To Vegas” (Daisy) ran nine hours later the following morning.  

The team finished fourth in the first round, sixth in the second round with a faster time, and second in the average behind Sherry Cervi. The top four qualify directly to Globe Life Field for the Semi Finals of RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo.  

This year, the qualifying format for The American Rodeo was changed. Named “The American Rodeo Contender Tournament,” it consists of three regional tours–western, central, and eastern–which send their top four contenders each. Hanson will compete against just 11 other barrel racers, when compared with last year when she was one of 294 barrel racers who were gunning for a spot in the performances. While she and Daisy did advance to the “perfs” in 2022, they tipped a barrel with the finals just in sight. Still, this experience gives her confidence in her horse and their abilities.  

Lovingly dubbed “Daisy May,” the little roan mare was not always as easy for Hanson to run. Hanson took out her first loan at the bank to purchase Daisy from Terri Kissack as a yearling. “I’m not going to lie, we tipped a lot of barrels in our career,” she laughs. “The last couple of years we’ve gotten more consistent and I’ve figured out how to ride her. She’s just very ratey and I just have to point and kick and set my hand and leave her alone. She doesn’t want you pulling her around a barrel.” Hanson’s persistence paid off. She trained and futuritied the now-nine-year-old by herself, and now the mare is almost guaranteed a paycheck whenever she’s in the trailer. “I never doubt whether she’s going to try when we go in the arena. She loves her job. I’m just very grateful to have her,” she says.  

Hanson had “horses everywhere” with two colts competing in Buckeye, Arizona while she ran at Heber City, Utah. Burning Ember Photography | courtesy photo

Hanson has turned her passion into a career training futurity colts. “I love young horses and watching them progress and being a part of their success,” she says. Because Hanson was not able to be in two places at once on the weekend when both the American qualifier and the Royal Crown were scheduled, Hanson sent her two futurity colts with a good friend and mentor, Cami Bussmus, to run. Bussmus found success in Buckeye with the two young horses, winning about $2,000 on behalf of Hanson.  

Without her support system and sponsors, Hanson says that none of her success in the arena would be possible. Not only did she have two colts with Bussmus, she also had a mare nearing her foaling date being cared for by Kissack in Belle Fourche. “We have horses everywhere,” Hanson jokes. Meanwhile, her dad and grandpa were helping out at home with daily chores in her absence. Perhaps best of all, Hanson’s mom accompanied her on the trip. “She’s always my biggest supporter. The last round, I couldn’t see my time and didn’t know whether I did good or not, but the next thing I knew, I heard her behind me screaming, so I knew I must’ve done it.”  

In the ever-growing world of barrel racing, with purses getting higher and more available for more competitors, Hanson is just grateful to be a part of it. She says, “It’s a cool opportunity. Not a lot of people get to experience it. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride and have some fun while I’m doing it.” 

Hanson’s career as a futurity colt trainer would not be possible without her sponsors and the support of her family and friends. It was a team effort to qualify her to the next round of The American Rodeo. Teton Ridge | courtesy photo