AQHA: 30 Years of Rodeo Horses of the Year

French First Watch and Jill Welsh snagged the 2015 AQHA-PRCA Barrel Horse of the Year title. Photo by Hubbell Photography

In the 30 years that the AQHA Media team has been writing about the AQHA-Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Horses of the Year, we’ve referred to them as varsity athletes, the best of the best, cowboy cadillacs, rodeo romeos and necessary equipment. Their riders, owners and fans know them best by their barn names; “Scooter,” “Fiesta,” “Latte,” Pacman,” “Jeremiah,” “Louie,” “Roany,” “Bozo,” “Scamper,” “Chili Dog,” “Iceman” or “Babyflo.”

Regardless, the riders of these four-legged, speed-event machines wouldn’t have won the money and world titles they did without them, and AQHA is proud that a majority of professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls call on American Quarter Horses to get the job done.

Here’s a little trivia based on 30 years of top rodeo horses:

Charmayne James’ Gills Bay Boy, whom she found working in a cattle feedyard, won the barrel racing horse of the year title five times. The famous “Scamper” was by Gill’s Sonny Boy and out of Drapers Jay by Headed West 66.

Charles Pogue’s Oklahoma Top Hat, aka “Scooter,” won the heading title six times. The gray gelding, whom Charles bought for $5,000, was by a racehorse named Oklahoma Fuel and out of Winners Doll by Win Or Lose.

2019 Barrel Horse of the Year High Valor is by racehorse sire Valiant Hero. At least three horses of the year are grand-get of racehorse sires: Sort Of Like Fast, 2002 steer wrestling, grandson of Dash For Cash; Megazord, 2004 heading, grandson of Easy Jet; and Rocks Eye Opener, 2009 steer wrestling, grandson of Mr Eye Opener, who is going into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2020.

In their first year together (1996), heeler Rich Skelton and Boons Smooth Val, aka “Roany,” won $85,000 and finished second in the world. Roany was heel horse of the year four times.

Kristie Peterson’s French Flash Hawk, “Bozo,” whom she acquired for $400, was barrel horse of the year five times. Bozo was by Sun Frost and out of Caseys Charm by Tiny Circus.

The champ Guy Allen’s steer roping partner, Two D Ole Man, won the steer roping horse of the year four times. Guy nicknamed “Jeremiah” after one of his favorite books in the Bible. The brown gelding was a grandson of Two Eyed Jack on the top side and racehorse sire The Ole Man on the bottom side.