HORSES FOR COURSES: Badlands Circuit awards horses for rodeo ability |

HORSES FOR COURSES: Badlands Circuit awards horses for rodeo ability

MINOT, N.D. (October 14, 2021) – The 2021 Badlands Circuit PRCA and WPRA Horses of the Year have been selected for their exceptional ability in rodeo.

For the steer wrestling, the 2021 Badlands Circuit Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year went to Hard Luck Special, “KG”, owned and ridden by Cameron Morman. The 2021 Badlands Circuit Haze Horse of the Year was won by HH Sis, “Tess,” owned and ridden by Sterling Lee.

In the team roping, the head horse of the year was won by Its Mister Fame to U, “Richard,” owned and ridden by Braden Pirrung, and the heel horse of the year went to Smart Blackburn 008, “Ranger,” owned and ridden by Matt Zancanella.

The Badlands Circuit Tie-down Roping Horse of the Year honors went to Trey Young’s Neat Lil Chance, “Fozzy,” for the fifth time (one year he tied with Justin Scofield’s mount.)

For the WPRA, the 2021 Badlands Circuit Breakaway Horse of the Year award was won by Handsome Jack Spratt, “Handsome,” owned and ridden by Lynn Smith. The barrel horse of the year went to Teasin Dat Guy, “Chewy,” ridden by Molly Otto and owned by Katie Lindahl, and the WPRA Badlands Circuit Rising Star Award went to FirewaterFrenchFame, “Apollo,” owned and ridden by Summer Kosel.

Summer Kosel, Glenham, S.D. competes at the 2021 Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo in Minot. Her mount, FirewaterFrenchFame, “Apollo,” is the 2021 Badlands Circuit Barrel Horse of the Year. Alaina Stangle
Courtesy photo

Braden Pirrung, owner and rider of Richard, the head horse of the year, never imagined his mount would win any awards.

“If you’d have told me last winter at this time that he’d win Horse of the Year, I’d have called you crazy,” he said.

Richard was owned by Matt and Kristen Zancanella, who trained him on the barrels. The ten-year-old palomino did the barrel racing with Kristen and was a pole bending mount for the Zancanella’s daughter, who even did some English riding on him.

Last winter, Matt Zancanella, Jr Dees and Pirrung began heading on him, but he had a few quirks, Pirrung said.

For the first steer, “he’d hump (buck) going to the steer,” he said. The palomino only did it on the first steer, but it made Pirrung “a little nervous, rodeoing on him, because you don’t get a practice steer at rodeos.”

When Pirrung’s primary horse got hurt, he had no choice but to turn to Richard. He roped on him at four or five jackpots before the horse hit the rodeo trail, and “then he was just lights out after that,” Pirrung said.

Braden Pirrung, Hartford, S.D., owns and rides the 2021 Badlands Circuit Team Roping Head Horse of the Year. He finished the rodeo season as Badlands Circuit champion header. Alaina Stangle
Courtesy Photo

Richard doesn’t have a sweetheart’s personality, Pirrung reported, but that’s all right.

“He does what he wants,” he said. “He’s always pawing at the trailer, being a pain in the butt. Once you get on him, it’s a different deal. He’s all business.

“If you don’t have a hay bag or get his grain, he’s mad, and if you turn him loose and let him graze and turn your back, you’re probably not going to find him for a while. He’ll wander off.”

Richard carried Pirrung to the top of the leaderboard at the start of the Badlands Circuit Finals and to a year-end title.

“I like the heck out of my old horse,” he said, “but I think (the horse’s injury) was a blessing. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’d done on that horse.

“Richard’s a cool horse.”

A Wyoming-turned Arizona horse won the WPRA Badlands Circuit Breakaway Horse of the Year.

Handsome Jack Spratt, “Handsome,” is owned and ridden by Lynn Smith of Elfrida, Ariz.

He was purchased four years ago from TJ and Jennie Spratt of Lysite, Wyo., sight unseen by Lynn and her husband Rick Smith, because of the Spratts’ sterling reputation.

Lynn Smith breakaway ropes on her horse Handsome Jack Spratt, “Handsome.” The red dun won the Badlands Circuit Breakaway Horse of the Year. Alaina Stangle
Courtesy photo

Handsome, who is an eleven-year-old red dun, was originally purchased as a heel horse for Rick, a former saddle bronc rider who competed at the National Finals Rodeo six times. But when Rick didn’t rope as much, and Lynn began breakaway roping more, she used Handsome as a practice horse. Four days into practice, she knew he was good. “I thought,” this is kinda special,” she said.

Handsome doesn’t like the bells and whistles of rodeo, but he loves to work. “He’s all business,” she said. “He hates the bright lights and the rodeo noise, but when you back into the box, he’s all business. He gives you the same throw every time, in the same position every time. He’s been on the big long scores, wherever.

“We have a lot of fun together,” Smith said. “He’s taken good care of me. He’s a damn good horse and we’re thrilled to have won” the circuit award.

The 2021 Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo took place in Minot October 8-10, with Badlands Circuit champions crowned and qualifications for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo were determined. More information can be found at

–Badlands Circuit Finals

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