Futurity Horse to 2023 Heel Horse of the BFI
Logan Medlin's Cantina was voted the Top Heel Horse of the 2023 BFI. Val Andersen/CBarC Photography courtesy BFI
Logan Medlin's Cantina was voted the Top Heel Horse of the 2023 BFI. Val Andersen/CBarC Photography courtesy BFI

Logan Medlin’s Tongue River Ranch-bred TRR Freckles Holidoc has had a big year transitioning from futurity horse to rodeo horse. After making the short round of the 2022 American Rope Horse Futurity Association World Championships Oct. 21, 2022, and making his first NFR appearance, Cantina was crowned the Top Heel Horse of the 2023 Bob Feist Invitational April 1.

“I don’t have very many that could make that transition that fast,” said Medlin, the 31-year-old three-time NFR qualifier. “I’m not saying he’s the best that’s ever been made, but I think he’s got a good enough mind, and he’s just a freak athlete and he’s forgiving. He can do a lot of stuff that he needs to be able to do, but he’s not going to take anything away. So, I just try to let him let him enjoy his job.”

Initially, Medlin had no intention of putting Cantina on the biggest rodeo and roping stages just yet. But when his two-time AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse of the Year Drago came up sore before the 2022 NFR, he had no choice. Cantina showed just what he was made of and carried Medlin to two go-round wins that year. When it came time to make a decision about which horse was going to take the hit of six steers at the Feist, Medlin called up the seven-year-old gelding once again.

“My older horse can’t take this hard of hits, especially six of them in a day,” said Medlin of Tatum, New Mexico. “He [Cantina] can run faster than Drago. He’s stronger to the horn, but that’s kind of what I’ve been riding here lately, and he has been doing good and I haven’t gotten to ride him yet somewhere where they let them out this far. But I knew he would do good because he can run so dang fast. And so, I was happy with him.”

Medlin and his partner Coleman Proctor, seven-time NFR qualifier, went back second-high call at the Feist with a 37.97 on five head but had some poor luck in the short round. Cantina, however, stayed rock solid all day long. 

“We were very fortunate,” Medlin said. “Our first two steers were very good; I mean, very good. They were loping. We were short seven on both of them. But it kind of almost worked better for me on a greener horse because it let me just settle my horse in and I didn’t have to just ask him for his guts on the first one of the day. I think he’d have been fine, but it kind of let us just get in a rhythm. And then by time the second, third, fourth rounds rolled around, we drew some steers that were a little bit stronger, but he was dialed in. And I was cruising him up there around them and he was spot on.”

The Beginning

Cantina, who is by Tongue River Ranch stallion Pepcid and out of SR Pretty Playboy, had a foundation put on him at Tongue River by TJ Roberts and Trip Townsend that allowed Medlin to focus on teaching him the heeling craft.

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“He had so much ability that I’ve just tried to let it be something that he didn’t hate and put it on him too fast,” Medlin said. “I think that’s something that I struggle with a lot of times is a horse gets to doing good and I get to expecting too much too fast. And him, I love so many things about him. I just kind of had to pattern him.”

Medlin has had Cantina in his barn for two years now, and his gut instinct that he was going to be something special has been right. 

“I started him from day one and I’m not a super trainer, I don’t think, but I just try to stay out of his way,” Medlin said. “He’s kind of been natural at it, and he’s still green and he still makes some mistakes, but he’s getting where he is pretty dang good.”

Cantina will be getting the call a lot more as the summer inches closer, and while he has surely proved his worth, calling on him over Drago is still hard for Medlin.

“I’ve pretty much started my career and to this point won everything on Drago,” Medlin said. “He is just 14 now, but I knew this day would come that I would have to ride something else. I didn’t honestly think it would come this early, but God’s got it under control, and he blessed me with Cantina. And I think it’s proof that he’s got me under his arm, and he knows what’s best.”

And Cantina’s Top Heel Horse of the BFI accomplishment proves just that and that all the work has been worth it. 

“It means a lot because I know that I’ve done it all on this horse.,” Medlin explained. “I made Drago also. Drago had been started; he’d been ridden some when I bought him. But I’ve done every single thing on Cantina. And there’s been a lot of days where you think, ‘Am I even doing this the right way? Am I spinning my wheels?’ And to win an award like this is kind of almost reassurance that maybe you’re not just completely off track.”

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