Courtesy of American Quarter Horse Association
AQHA and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association name the 2017 speed-event horses of the year.
Five first-time winners were named October 10 as the 2017 American Quarter Horse Association-Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Horses of the Year. The top speed-event American Quarter Horses are nominated and voted on by the top 25 rodeo contestants in barrel racing, tie-down roping, steer roping, heading, heeling and steer wrestling.
The top three horses were named in each of the six categories. This year, the lone repeat champion was heel horse Zans Colonel Shine (“Colonel”), who is by Zans Diamond Shine and out of Foxy Angelo by Col J Jigger. Colonel is heeler Jake Long’s main mount.
Long enters his seventh Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris Ranger fifth in the Weather Guard PRCA World Standings. Long owns the horse with his wife, Tasha, and the horse helped him win the Gladewater (Texas) Round-Up Rodeo and Kit Carson County Fair & Rodeo (Burlington, Colorado) with partner Luke Brown, who is fourth in the heading standings.
“It means a lot to me and my family. Any time people recognize your animal with something like this (Horse of the Year), it makes you feel good,” Long said. “Colonel is good in every setup. I can ride him anywhere from Salinas to the (Thomas & Mack Center) at the NFR. He never cost me money, and it is never his fault. The cool thing about him is he really likes to go and compete.”
On the other side of team roping, Chad Masters’ horse Madison Oak (“Clint”) is the head horse of the year. Clint, who is by Son Of Oak and out of Freddies Baby Doll by Doc Freckle, is an 11-year-old gelding Masters has owned since the horse was 4. Masters, a two-time world champion (2007, 2012), is headed to his 11th NFR. Masters and his partner, Travis Graves, had a strong regular season, which included Masters riding Clint to the win at California Rodeo Salinas. Masters enters Las Vegas seventh in the world standings.
“For the group of horses that are in there, for mine to do good, means a lot to me,” Masters said.
The steer wrestling Horse of the Year is Canted Plan (“Scooter”), who is by Up In Your Face and out of Gambler Speed Line by Crystal Gambler. Scooter is owned by Tyler Pearson and Kyle Irwin. Pearson enters his second NFR third in the world standings, and Irwin is 11th.
“We’re pumped that he won this award,” Pearson said. “Kyle and I knew he deserved this, and I’m really happy that several other people thought the same.”
Irwin concurred with Pearson.
“Scooter is a one-of-a-kind horse,” Irwin said. “He has a personality. He’s a winner.”
Shane Hanchey’s Simon Cow (“Si”) claimed top tie-down-roping horse honors. By Dual Pep and out of Bingo Legacy by Bingo Hickory, Si has been Hanchey’s partner since May 2015, and he helped Hanchey finish third in the regular season world standings and qualify for his eighth career NFR.
“It’s pretty cool that I now have a Horse of the Year,” Hanchey said. “He’s an easy-going horse who doesn’t care about anything, and he got this Horse of the Year honor because any style of roper can win on him and he’s good at any setup.”
The steer roping horse that took the top spot was John Bland’s Carols Sassy Doc (“Salty”), by Poco Sassy Doc and out of RSI Carol by Peppy Taito. The sorrel gelding helped Bland have the best season of his career and powered him to his first qualification to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, which is November 10-11 in Mulvane, Kansas. Salty was bred by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Spade Ranch of Lubbock, Texas. Salty is 16 years old, and Bland has owned him his entire life.
“This is unbelievable to know that we’ve been together this long and that everybody thinks as much of him as I do,” Bland said.
In barrel racing, it was Sam Williams’ Rafter W Minnie Reba (“Sister”) who took top honors, edging out Matt and Bendi Dunn’s MCM Imasharpguy (“Sharpie”) and Tiany Schuster’s Show Mance. Sister is a 2008 home-bred blue roan mare by KS Cash N Fame and out of Espuela Roan by Blue Light Ike.