by | Oct 31, 2023 | Rodeo

Jason Schaffer, Broadus, Mont., aboard the Badlands Tie-Down Horse of the Year Sheer Can Do “Jewels.” Schaffer rode the five-year-old mare at this year’s Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo. [Photo: Alaina Stangle Photography]

MINOT, N.D. — The Badlands Circuit awarded its Horses of the Year in each rodeo event.

In the steer wrestling, Woody, owned by River Voigt, Killdeer, N.D. won the Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year. The Haze Horse of the Year is Junior, owned by Kody Woodward, Dupree, S.D.

The Tie-Down Horse of the Year went to Sheer Can Do, “Jewels,” owned by Jason Schaffer, Broadus, Montana.

Riley Curuchet’s horse, Jag, is the 2023 Badlands Circuit Heel Horse of the Year. Curuchet heeled for Guy Howell at this year’s circuit finals rodeo. [Photo: Alaina Stangle Photography]

In the team roping, the Head Horse of the Year was won by Bodie Mattson’s Let R Buck Pendleton, “Pendleton,” and the Heel Horse of the Year went to I’ll Be A Peanut, “Jag,” owned by Riley Curuchet, Kaycee, Wyo.  

For the sixth time, Missy, ridden by Jessica Routier, won the Badlands Barrel Horse of the Year. [Photo: Alaina Stangle Photography]

For the WPRA, the Barrel Horse of the Year was won by Jessica Routier’s Fiery Miss West, “Missy,” and the Rising Star Horse went to Stone Cold Stinson, “Rocky,” owned by Molly Otto, Grand Forks, N.D. The Breakaway Roping Horse of the Year is Lavaca Sting, “Rollo,” owned by Rickie Fanning, Spearfish, S.D.

The Badlands Breakaway Horse of the Year award went to Rollo, owned by Rickie Fanning. [Photo: Alaina Stangle Photography]

Jason Schaffer’s tie-down horse, Jewels, carried Schaffer “to a lot of wins this summer,” he said. “It was fun.”

Schaffer and his wife, Shauna, got the 5-year-old gray two years ago, and they said she was easy to train. “She wanted to do it from the get-go.” And her size works to her benefit. “She’s bigger than most calf horses, not fine-boned. She’s a well-built horse.” 

But they say her strongest trait is her heart. “She has heart and grit. She’s got a lot of heart, and that’s the biggest thing.”

Woody, the Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year, started his career as a hazing horse, but Joe Nelson, who owned him before Voigt bought him, switched him to the steer wrestling.

“He liked it better,” the Watford City, N.D. cowboy said. “He always wanted to run. If you went to pull on him, he just hated it. We figured if we switched him over, he would really do well, and he has.”

Nelson’s horse was injured in June, and, then in July, a knee injury took Voigt out of competition, so Nelson asked to ride Woody.

Nelson estimates that Woody won more than $50,000 at PRCA rodeos this year among the five cowboys who rode him: Nelson and Tyler Thorson (who both made the circuit finals), plus Landon Sivertsen, Parker Sandstrom, and Rope Smith.

“He’s just a really neat horse,” Nelson said. “He’s super easy to get along with, he’s super good in the box, he runs hard, and he’s easy to catch at the back end. He’s the kind you want to ride.”

Bodie Mattson’s Pendleton, an 11-year-old sorrel gelding “is a one of a kind freak athlete,” Mattson said.

Bodie Mattson (on the right, in red) rides the Badlands Circuit Head Horse of the Year, Pendleton, at the 2023 Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo. [Photo: Alaina Stangle Photography]

The Head Horse of the Year is out of a mare owned by Mattson and his dad, Jay. Jay broke him, and both men trained and seasoned him.

“He’s one of the toughest horses I’ve ever ridden,” the Sturgis, S.D. man said. “He has a lot of heart, he scores exceptionally well, and he has an unbelievable amount of run. His speed is in control, so you don’t feel like you’re running past the steer. He’s really smooth.”

Mattson said the horse’s emotions are dry, “He’s a horse that doesn’t show much emotion. He’s buddied up to my calf roping horse, and they’re pretty good friends, but other than that, he sticks to his job.”

Horses of the Year Awards are voted on by the contestants in their respective events.

This year’s Badlands Circuit Finals took place in Minot Oct. 13-15 with champions determined in each event.

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