Nobody has been more dominant in the 2022 heel horse futurity business than Guthrie, Oklahoma’s Steve Orth, who notched his most recent futurity win July 10 in Ardmore, Oklahoma aboard the 2016 mare Xtra Starry Oak.
Xtra Starry Oak, by Wimpys Little Step out of PCR Starlights Oak by Grays Starlight and owned by Yevette Hicks, scored a 915.47 on four head, worth $7,520 for the day (including a Round 1 win). He is the fourth horse Orth has won with across the American Rope Horse Futurity Association and Royal Crown events in 2022. In total, by TRJ calculations Orth and his customers have won some $59,688 between the ARHFA and Royal Crown before the associations’ two largest futurities of the year in October and August, respectively. Add in the $27,100 Orth picked up at the Roping Futurities of America slot roping and derby, and Orth has won $86,788 in the futurity games this year.
“You have to have success on these horses in the first round,” Orth said of one of the secrets to his success. “If you do good on them in the first round, you get a better look the rest of the time. And Casey Hicks has helped me all year, and he’s done a really good job. He has nice head horses that work well for these events. Especially in the arena in Ardmore last weekend, it was so hot and hard on the head horses, but he roped really well for me.”
Xtra Starry Oak’s Origins
Xtra Starry Oak has been in Orth’s program since she was a 3-year-old under the ownership of Anita and Hoby Horn. The mare was a reiner who didn’t quite have enough turn around but plenty of stop, so to the roping pen with Orth she went.
“I rode her for the Horns, and then they sold her to my other clients, Justin and Yevette Hicks of Broken Bow, Oklahoma,” Orth said. “She is a nice mare, and she was pretty easy and natural to train. I even took her to some IPRA rodeos last summer. The only reason you haven’t seen me on her this year is that she’s been in the breeding barn since the ARHFA in Arizona this winter.”
Xtra Starry Oak’s Bridle Adjustments
As with many reiners, Orth said his greatest challenge with the mare, who he calls Annie, was bringing her nose up in the stop. But having heeled less than 10 steers on her between getting her back from the breeding barn and Ardmore, that no longer seemed like an issue.
“Before, in the years past that I’ve shown her, when I’d go to stop, she’d really hide her head,” Orth explained. “It didn’t affect me, but it looked weird. I finally got her nose up enough so when I throw, she keeps her head up. I had been riding her in a half-breed spade that works good on the ones who can hide their head. For Ardmore, I put a short-shanked little sliding gag with a bar mouthpiece on her, and that felt right.”