How the Late ZZ Top Member Dusty Hill Was a Cowboy at Heart

by Amy Myers
(Photo by Didier Messens/Redferns)

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising the ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill was nothing but a cowboy under that big hat, beard and sunglasses. After all, he was from Texas.

Since Hill’s passing on July 28, 2021, the rock community has been adamant about honoring the legendary bassist in just about every way they can. As it turns out, we can add “dedicated horse owner and father” to the long list of his attributes. Although you wouldn’t see the ZZ Top star hurling a lasso overhead, Hill was what his good friend Jeff Lewis called “an owner with an appreciation of the reining industry.”

The interest started as a gesture for his 13-year-old daughter, Codie. At the time, Codie wanted a horse of her own, and, like every father of a young daughter, the ZZ Top star was wrapped around her finger. So, Hill bought her a white half-Arabian horse and decided to attend reining shows with Lewis to become more familiarized with the responsibilities of owning a horse. What Hill didn’t know was that instead of just coming home with a bit more knowledge, he would come home with a second horse, too.

“Dusty went to some horse shows with me and knew that I showed reiners. He became interested in getting more involved,” Lewis shared with the National Reining Horse Association

While at an NRHA Futurity Breeders Sale, the ZZ Top star and his friend watched a filly walk into the ring. Lo and behold, she had the same name as his daughter. Well, the horse’s full name was Hot Lil Codie, partly named after the mare and sire that created her. Still, to Hill, it felt like fate. So, he and Lewis bought her together.

“She turned out to be a really nice horse,” Lewis recalled.

Horse Reiner Remembers Late ZZ Top Star as ‘a Nice Guy to Be Around’

Once Hot Lil Codie became a part of Hill’s family, he and Lewis decided to bring her to the multiple World Champion horse reiner, Robert Chown. With Chown, the mare went on to compete in many regional events around Houston, Texas. During the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo one year, Lewis even brought home a victory in the Non-Pro competition. Meanwhile, Chown won an Open title with the mare at the same event.

“We won quite a few of the regional shows, and Houston was quite a big deal at the time,” the horse reiner shared.

Outside of Hot Lil Codie’s competitions, Chown remembered the ZZ Top star fondly.

“I remember him more as quiet to be around. Every time I was around him, he was gracious and very nice,” he said.

While at a ZZ Top concert in Dallas, Chown was able to go backstage to hang out with Hill and the rest of the band.

“He didn’t have the big rockstar attitude that you would expect – loud and boisterous and everything else,” Chown said. “He was just a really nice guy to be around.”

Now retired from her showing days, Hot Lil Codie happily resides on Lewis’ ranch in Texas.