Heel Horse King: Joseph Harrison’s NFR Mounts
Joseph Harrison's rodeo heel horses for the Wrangler NFR.

Joseph Harrison has set out to make the Wrangler NFR twice in his career. And for the second-straight year, he has succeeded. Meanwhile, his talent with horses and a rope has been on display at both American Quarter Horse Association and American Rope Horse Futurity Association shows and at the ProRodeos. 

Among his long list of accomplishments, he recently won the American Rope Horse Futurity Heeling on Dual Patron, Bobby Lewis’ stallion sired by Dual Spark. Harrison’s 8-year-old mare, Lula Dual, who is the 2018 Reserve AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse of Year, and Travis Graves’ horse, Dual Chip, are both paternal siblings to the flashy buckskin prodigy. 

“She’s a super, super nice mare,” Harrison said about Lula. “I really enjoy her. Obviously I’ve won more on her this year than I have anything, and she’s been really, really good for me.”

While Harrison will take Lula Dual to Las Vegas, he plans to back in the box at the Thomas and Mack on his 14-year-old gelding, Main Street Boon. 

“Main Street is old faithful. He doesn’t mess up,” Harrison explained. “So when the chips are down like they’re going to be next month, that’s who I’ll ride.” 

And even with the massive number of horses that Harrison has ridden over the years, Main Street has an elite status. 

“He’s one of my favorite horses that I’ve ever had–maybe my favorite one I’ve ever had,” Harrison said.

Harrison on Main Street in Round 2 of the 2017 Wrangler NFR | Photo by Kirt Steinke

And Harrison isn’t the only one who will be riding a horse he made at the 2018 Wrangler NFR. Travis Graves bought Dual Chip earlier this year, and the reigning NFR average champ will have the brown gelding with him at the Thomas & Mack. 

This time of year, Harrison usually rides between eight to twelve horses a day. 

“I really like to ride young rope horses–mainly heel horses–but I like to ride young head horses as well,” Harrison said. 

Most all of the time when Harrison is roping he’s roping for the horse, not for himself. 

“I love the horse training aspect of it, watching them grow under me,” Harrison said with a laugh. “But I’d be lying if I told you that going 4 flat or 4.2 isn’t fun as well. It’s all a lot of fun. And one part of it can pay as good as the other part, so I’m a lover of both.”

While it might seem like a challenge to go from showing a young horse to roping at the NFR, Harrison said, “When I get on one that his stride is sharp, he scores sharp and runs sharp, it speeds my swing up,” Harrison said. “The difference in the horse does a lot of it for me.” 

Of all the qualities a great horse has, stride is what stands out the most for Harrison. 

“I like a horse that has a stride,” Harrison said. “The stride doesn’t have to fit me for the show horse deal but in the rodeo world, where we have to go faster and depend on the horse a little more, my horse’s stride fits my swing and that’s what I really like.”

According to Harrison, showing horses for a score and roping against a clock still have similarities. 

“They’re kind of one and the same–you have to be able to have a short memory because we’re not going to do perfect every time,” Harrison said about having a strong mental game. “I think being able to shrug your shoulders and be okay with messing up a little bit can keep you from messing up on the next one.” 

When showing a horse he has them totally in tune, and that kind of control also helps in the rodeo set ups. 

“The more in control of the run I can be, the better I can win at the show,” Harrison added. “But also, the more in control of the run I can be, the faster I can be so it kind of goes hand in hand.”

This December, he’ll be “showing” just how fast he can be on ProRodeo’s biggest stage. 

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