The Greatest Mares of All-Time: An Introduction

Some insights into the making of The Team Roping Journal's March 2019 issue from editor Chelsea Shaffer.

Dear Ropers,

We didn’t have any committee of experts who decided on the top mares of all time in my feature story—Mare Power—on page 72 of our upcoming March 2019 issue. Just a bunch of cowboys, diving back into their memory about great horses they’ve seen over the last few decades of team roping exceptionalism.

Dustin Bird and Dolly grace the March 2019 cover. Kari deCastro Photo



When I need something from the history books, I always pick up the phone and call Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brien Cooper, and they were unanimous on two great mares of days gone by: Brian Burrow’s Myrtle and Allen Bach’s Papoose. Funny, then, that those two mares were the team of horses that won the 1979 Bob Feist Invitational, back when Feist held it in Chowchilla, California.

Bach was excited to talk about Papoose, the unregistered mare that he rode to his first world title. But before we got off the phone, he told me I’d really be remiss if I didn’t try to track down Brian Burrows. “That mare of his was the greatest there ever was,” he told me.

I’d never talked to Burrows before, who has long-since left the sport of team roping. He’s busy with his movie career, working as a stuntman in movies like The Fast and The Furious franchise, Die Hard, City Slickers, Young Guns and more. But when he called me back a day after I left him a message telling him I wanted to talk about Myrtle, the rough-and-tumble stuntman had tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat. I’d caught him off guard, wanting to talk about a horse that had defined so much of his life for so many years, and he was moved to tears.

Burrows on Myrtle and Bach on Papoose, two of the greatest mares of all-time, winning the 1979 BFI. Courtesy BFI

“It was always all about Myrtle,” Burrows told me. “I went over to where she’s buried just the other day to say hello. She died at 32, and she had a great life.”

Myrtle excelled on the long scores of rodeo’s early days. It’s no secret that a great horse makes a man—in fact, that is sure a constant theme in this space for my editor’s letter. I’m so thrilled we’re able to honor these mares and their bloodlines where possible, and I’m grateful legends like Bach and Burrows answer their phones when we call. 

With sincere thanks, 


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