By Wrangler Network contributor Miss Rodeo America
Every October, the American Quarter Horse Association recognizes six outstanding horses from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Rodeo contestants will tell you that the right horse is the key to their success, and as a rodeo queen our horses are put the test – they handle everything from sorting stock to carrying the American flag through flames in the arena. On average, Miss Rodeo America rides over 75 quarter horses throughout the year, from all different backgrounds. This variety – from pickup horses to performance horses – truly demonstrates the diversity of the American Quarter Horse, so I’ve decided to highlight a few of my own “AQHA Horses of the Year!” The pickup horse of the year goes to RCA Runnin Rooster (aka “Rooster”), owned by Bill Trump of Flying 5 Rodeo Company and Big Bend Rodeo Company. This eleven-year- old bay gelding has spent his life as a pickup horse and particularly enjoys working cattle, which combined with his willingness to work made him a fantastic “queen horse!” I had the opportunity to ride Rooster at multiple rodeos in the Columbia River Circuit and he truly distinguished himself when I needed to use him to pick up – in the grand entry! One of the queen horses decided that he would rather join the bucking string than run calmly through the arena, but luckily Rooster was ready to handle any situation. BBS ISA HANCOCK, called “Bill Bailey” after his breeder, has many jobs at a rodeo – he serves as a pickup horse, flag horse for our PRCA judges, and a queen horse when needed. He deserves an honorable mention in the pickup horse category because of his versatility during Rodeo Corpus Christi, where Rex Bugbee of Frontier Rodeo Company was kind enough to let me borrow him horses to carry the American flag, run sponsor flags, and push cattle out of the arena. Bill Bailey will forever hold a special place in my heart because he fearlessly carried me through flames on the arena floor, where we posted with the American flag. As the flames continued to blaze around us, Bill Bailey quietly stood for the National Anthem … and several fireworks! The rope horse of the year is Krogs Little Joe, known affectionately as “Clifford the Big Red Horse.” I had the pleasure of riding Clifford at the host rodeo for the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, the Douglas County Fair and Rodeo in Castle Rock, Colorado. This awesome horse goes back to Poco Bueno and excels in both heading and heeling. He placed first and second with owner Clay Adams at the Annual Commissioner’s Classic Team Roping in the afternoon before I carried the American flag and pushed cattle on him at the rodeo that evening! When he’s not excelling in the roping pen, the eleven-year- old red roan gelding is just as handy with ranch work. Clifford truly distinguished himself as an outstanding queen horse through not only his love of working cattle but also his calm demeanor posting with the American flag during the prayer and National Anthem.
Twelve-year-old Moons Piranha won the award for best ranch horse. The LaFevers family raised “Piranha” to be an all-around family horse that goes on pack trips through the Shoshone National Forest, performs drill team routines, and teaches their daughter Kintla how to be a cowgirl. During the Cody Stampede, Mandy LaFevers rodeo this awesome bag gelding through the parades and drill routines before I rode him to clear the arena during the rodeo performances. Piranha truly set himself apart when he allowed Kintla to climb up behind me each night to watch the rodeo. The performance horse of the year is Hooked on Pepper (aka “Hooker”), who I rode a pattern on for the 2016 Miss Rodeo Nebraska Association Pageant and used at NEBRASKAland DAYS. Owner Troyer has allowed a number of state queens and Miss Rodeo Americas the pleasure of riding this sweet little horse with a reined cowhorse background. Alexa Jones, Miss Rodeo Nebraska 2005, competed on Hooker during “Project Cowgirl,” placing fourth on the western reality television show. Karen and Alexa have both competed in ranch horse competitions on this fourteen-year- old gelding, who also has a winning record in 4-H competitions and junior rodeos. DLB Cowboy King (aka “Rascal”) was my mount for three weeks at RODEOHOUSTON and multiple Colorado rodeos and takes home the award for best all-around horse of my year. Rascal was sold through the WYO Quarter Horse Sale in Thermopolis, Wyoming, operated by ProRodeo Hall of Fame saddle bronc rider Bill Smith and his family. Consequently, this bay roan carries the recognizable Smith family Circle 7 brand. At 8 years old, Rascal has experience as a team roping heel horse and has settled into his career as a pickup horse. His breeding traces back to Doc Bar, Poco Bueno and, as his name suggests, King P-234, which explains his great mind, athleticism, and fancy appearance. I loved riding Rascal so much that this fall I decided to buy him and add him to my own herd! Thank you to Randy and Kathryn Britton of Rocking RB Ranch for letting me borrow and eventually bring home such a fun and well-trained gelding!