Equine partners in rodeo | TSLN.com

Equine partners in rodeo

Minot, N.D. (October 20, 2015) – Five horses have won the PRCA's Badlands Circuit's Horse of the Year awards for 2015.

Tie-down Roping Horse of the Year went to Jon Peek's horse Saul. Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year was won by Scooter, owned by Jason Reiss, Manning, North Dakota, while the Hazing Horse of the Year award went to Mose, owned by Anton Helfrich, Killdeer, North Dakota. Heading Horse of the Year went to J.B. Lord's Brownie, and the Heeling Horse of the Year was won by Romeo, owned by Rory Brown.

Saul, the horse ridden by Jon Peek of Berthold, North Dakota, nearly didn't have a timed event rodeo career. Owned by Jon's brother Josh Peek and Josh's father- and mother-in-law, Larry and Robbin Bryant, Saul bucked frequently during his training as a performance horse. He was started by Wade Watkins and Paul Hughes in eastern Colorado, but went through quite a few trainers before he came to the Peeks. His original name was Paul, but when he quit bucking, his name was changed to Saul, a reverse play on the Bible account of Saul, the persecutor who became Paul after his conversion to Christianity.

Saul makes an excellent tie-down horse for several reasons, Jon said. "He's very consistent and he's very strong. He scores really well, he never takes your throw away, he runs really good and he always stops and pulls. He does everything you want a horse to do: score, run, stop, and pull and he does it whether there's a foot of mud or if it's dry ground, or if it's indoors or outdoors. He's very consistent." Saul is sixteen years old.

“He’s very consistent and he’s very strong. He scores really well, he never takes your throw away, he runs really good and he always stops and pulls. He does everything you want a horse to do: score, run, stop, and pull and he does it whether there’s a foot of mud or if it’s dry ground, or if it’s indoors or outdoors. He’s very consistent.” Jon Peek on Saul, the 2015 Badland Circuit Tie-down Roping Horse of the Year

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Scooter, a ten year old sorrel, is owned and ridden by Jason Reiss, Manning, North Dakota. Since 2012, three of the four past Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo champions or year-end champions have ridden Scooter: Reiss as the Finals champion in 2012, Forest Sainsbury as the Finals and year-end champions last year, and Cameron Morman as the year-end champion this year.

Reiss bought the horse off the racetrack when he was three years old, and it took three years to get Scooter settled and ride-able, Reiss said. Reiss roped on him for a year, then began hauling him as a seven year old. This is Scooter's third year of steer wrestling, and Reiss allows about four cowboys to ride him at the pro rodeos.

Scooter has a big heart, Reiss said. "He gives it one hundred percent every time. It takes a special "want to" in a horse to bulldog, and he's damn sure got it."

Reiss won a breast collar with Badlands Circuit member and past Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Brian Fulton's name on it. Fulton, who lived in Valentine, Nebraska, passed away in August and was a highly respected cowboy. Reiss was honored to receive the breast collar. "Brian was a horseman," Reiss said, "and he only rode the best. That means a lot to me." Scooter will wear the breast collar, Reiss said. "I was thinking about putting it in the house, but I'd rather have it out there so everybody sees it and it keeps Brian in everybody's memory." At this year's Badlands Circuit Finals, Tyler Schau rode Scooter as well as Reiss and Morman.

Mose, owned by Anton Helfrich, won the Hazing Horse of the Year award. The nineteen-year old sorrel has been owned by Helfrich, Killdeer, North Dakota, for the past six years. He bought the horse from his cousin, Clayton Morrison. Mose is consistent, Helfrich said. "He's the same every time. He's really good in the corner and the same in the field every time." Mose is also easy to get along with. "He's really mellow and user friendly." Helfrich did not qualify for this year' Badlands Circuit Finals but hazed there for Evan Entze, Tom Hansen, Sheldon Portwine, and Tyler Thorson.

Helfrich was given a breast collar in honor of another Badlands Circuit competitor who passed away this year. Brady Wakefield, 20, died in a vehicle accident in July. Wakefield "was a super nice guy, super athletic, and a super great cowboy," Helfrich said. He rodeoed with Brady's father Jim early in his career. "I've known the family for quite a while, and they're a good rodeo family."

For the team roping, J.B. Lord's mount Brownie won the heading category. Lord, Sturgis, South Dakota, bought him as a three year old from Jade Lyon of Meadow, South Dakota. After riding him for a month or so, he sold Brownie to a local rancher. After Brownie bucked the rancher off, he sold the horse back to Lord. "I started roping on him and he's turned into a really great horse, one of the best I've ever had."

The horse does his job well, Lord said. "He really scores good, and doesn't do anything to cost you money. He's a bigger horse, but short-strided."

Lord's older son Eli rode him in high school rodeo and at amateur rodeo and jackpots. "The horse fits my style," Lord said. "He makes very few mistakes."

The Heeling Horse of the Year was won by Rory Brown's horse named Romeo. Brown and his wife Wanda, of Edgemont, South Dakota, own the horse, who is fourteen years old. The bay was purchased from former neighbor Jeremy Smith, and his work in the pasture and moving cattle helped calm the horse down, Brown said.

Rory and Wanda both competed at this year's Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo.

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.

–Minot Y's Mens Rodeo