While the heel horses on this year's National Finals Rodeo qualifier list have relatively similar, all-cow pedigrees, the head horse side is a tick more diverse in 2021.
The speed required of head horses in the modern team roping era is apparent in the pedigrees of the 2021 NFR qualifying head horses, alongside the grit and cow necessary to survive 75 rodeos in the regular season. Here are some big-picture observations to accompany he bloodline breakdown.
- Clay Tryan always says he's not much of a pedigree man, but there's something similar about the bloodlines of all of his horses: speed. The great Walt, who Tryan shared with his brother Travis at his first NFR, was out of a half-Thoroughbred mare and had Three Bars all over his papers. Thumper, too, went back to Three Bars six times, and Cate and Dew were both by sons of Dash For Cash. Tryan stuck with the run gene in his new mount JLo, registered as BulletsOvrNiteSuxess, by the Frenchmans Guy son Frenchmans Bullet out of the Chicks Benduino granddaughter Beanie Baybe Chic.
- Speaking of run, Clint Summers rode a true race horse to Las Vegas this year. Summers made his first Finals on the head side aboard Jubilant Version, the Trevor-Brazile-trained, Reliance-Ranch-bred 12-year-old bay gelding by Holland Ease out of The Jubilee Diamond by Runaway Winner.
- Andrew Ward, too, has plenty of run in his head horse Cole E Man. By Okey Dokey Dale and out of the Streakin La Jolla mare Streakin Polly Bee, Ward's horse set the shot up time and time ago for his partner Buddy Hawkins aboard his grade pony X. Coleman Proctor also has plenty of run on his horse Mabee Jessy Can's pedigree, as he's a grandson of Mr. Jess Perry out of an Easy Jet-bred mare. Fin Bar Whiskey One ridden this year by Kaleb Driggers is by Irish Pay, out of a Depth Charge/Easy Jet mare.
- Erich Rogers' Butter Ball Man, owned by Ken Bray, is related to his partner's EM Magic Bar Eleven. Paden Bray's Slider is out of a paternal sister to Woodrow, with both Woodrow and the broodmare Magic Bette Bars by Ginomagic Man, a grandson of the great Gay Bar King.
- Mohawk, a.k.a. JE Shining Rowdy, is the horse that let Dustin Egusquiza dominate the entire regular season in ProRodeo on the head side. The roan gelding might trick you into thinking he's all Hancock, but the bulk of his pedigree is Shining Spark, Zan Parr Bar and Hollywood Dun It. Four generations back, though, on his dam's side is Blue Valentine, which could explain the color.
- Coy Rahlmann's blue roan is grade, as is Derrick Begay's famed Swagger. Swagger is also the oldest horse on the list, being somewhere in his 20s.
- Proctor's Mabee Jessy Can is 9—the youngest horse that helped his jockey get to the Finals this year.
Son Olena Steel
Butter Ball Man
3. Kaleb Driggers' Fin Bar Whiskey One
Remis Gays On Ofadoc
4. Clay Smith's Sonita Smokin Light
5. Clay Tryan's BulletsOvrNiteSuxess
Cee How Nifty
8. Clint Summers' Jubilant Version
10. Rhen Richard's Kiowa Star Holder
11. Derrick Begay's Hannah
No, Begay's mare is not grade, despite the fact that it would be easier for him to tell you she was than remember to send us her papers. However, Swagger is grade.