Badlands Circuit selects Horses of the Year awards for 2014 | TSLN.com

Badlands Circuit selects Horses of the Year awards for 2014

Ruth Nicolaus

Five horses have won the Badlands Circuit's Horse of the Year awards for 2014.

Heading Horse of the Year went to Tyrell Moody's horse Cisco, while Heeling Horse of the Year was won by Romeo, owned by Rory Brown. Tie-down Horse of the Year went to Justin Scofield's Paco, and Del Ray Kraupie, Bridgeport, Neb., won two awards: one for Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year, and the second for Hazing Horse of the Year.

Rory Brown, Edgemont, S.D., almost didn't buy the horse that won him the Heeling Horse award.

The thirteen year old bay quarter horse, whose name is Romeo, didn't have an "off" button. "I kind of didn't know whether to buy him or not," Brown said. "He was just so crazy. On the ground, he was a kid's pony. When you got on him, he wanted to go too much."

But he made the purchase, from former neighbor Jeremy Smith, and it was a good decision. The horse, who was nervous and "hot in the box," changed. "I rode him in the pasture quite a bit, and that calmed him down. He was used to going fast all the time, and how we move cattle around here is slow and clam. Pretty soon he got tired and relaxed. That helped him calm down and made him a lot easier to get along with."

The bay is one of the top two horses Brown says he's ever owned. "He just really tries hard, and he's real quick-footed. He can get tight pretty fast. He's a pretty neat little horse. Anybody that's around him likes him."

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Brown, who has been a member of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association for more than twenty years, is the 2014 Badlands Circuit Team Roping Heeling Champion. His wife, Wanda, also competed at the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo in the barrel racing.

Del Ray Kraupie owns the Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year for the Badlands Circuit, and the Hazing Horse of the Year.

The Bridgeport, Neb. cowboy, who qualified for his second Badlands Circuit Finals this year, rode Billy with his brother Jake hazing on Gunner.

Billy was purchased two years ago when Del's good steer wrestling horse died. Brady and Wendy Rinehart, who raise quarter horses in Highmore, S.D., and are the parents of National Finals Rodeo steer wrestler Jake Rinehart, offered Billy to Del. "Jake had this young horse (Billy) standing there, and Brady told my brother, 'Go get him, take him to the rodeos, and you can lease him if you like him.' We both got along with him really well." They purchased Billy from the Rineharts in 2012.

Billy has a big heart, Del Ray said. "It's his try. He's honest for anybody that gets on him. He makes the same trip every time, and I think that's what makes him so good."

The Rineharts were just as pleased as Kraupie when Billy won the award. "Brady called me right after (the Badlands) Circuit Finals, and he was just as happy or happier than I was, that he won the award. He still comes and watches the horse every once in a while."

Gunner, the Hazing Horse of the Year, has family ties to the Kraupies. "He's a horse with sentimental value," Del Ray said. Del Ray's grandfather, Harold Kraupie, who passed away in 2006, raised him. Del Ray and Jake rode him in college, where the horse won the award for the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the National Inter-Collegiate Rodeo Association.

Gunny has a lot of try, just like Billy. "He's just a great horse. He's probably one of those that's not absolutely blessed with a ton of speed, but he's so honest and tries so hard, you can get it done all the time on him." He is owned by Del Ray, Jake, and their dad, Darrell, but Darrell claims ownership. "When he calls us on the road, he'll ask if we're taking care of his horse."

Del Ray and Jake, as well as fellow steer wrestler Reed Petersek, rode Billy at the Badlands Circuit Finals. Del Ray estimates that Gunner was ridden to haze for between five and eight steer wrestlers at every rodeo they competed at this summer.

The Tie-down Roping Horse of the Year went to Paco, the twelve year old quarter horse owned by Justin Scofield. Scofield, Volga, S.D., trained Paco, who was purchased by Scofield's dad as a weanling. Scofield has won the Badlands Circuit Tie-down Roping championship five times; he's been a PRCA member since 1998.

The Badlands Circuit, which includes the PRCA rodeos in North Dakota and South Dakota, culminates with the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo each October in Minot. The Horse of the Year Awards, voted on by the contestants in each event, are awarded during the rodeo.

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