Mr. Joes Shadow Bar, also known as Joe, first caught the eye of Clint Summers, a two-time NFR qualifier from Lake City, Florida, two years ago in 2021. And at the 2023 Bob Feist Invitational, Joe caught the eyes of the top guys in the game, earning him the BFI’s Top Head Horse coveted bronze statue.
Joe carried Summers and his partner Cory Petska, 2017 PRCA world champion heeler, to third in the average with 46.63 seconds on six head, worth $76,000.
“He gave me everything that I needed each time,” Summers, 31, said. The one in the short round, man, it really ran, and he gave me everything he had. And on all the other ones, he felt the same to me every time.”
The Feist brings a long score and fast steers, requiring a toughness in a horse that sets them apart from the others, like it did Joe.
“I think that horse has got enough grit to him—he’s really tough,” Summers said. “But in another way, he is very kind, so he wants to please you. So, no matter what, he is going to give it all he’s got. I think that has a big deal with it. I think that horse has got a big heart, and I think he’s going to last and be great for my rodeo career.”
The 11-year-old bay gelding by Mr. Joes Bar Song and out of Princess Hailstone was being ridden by 21-time NFR qualifier J.D. Yates when Summers first found interest in him.
“J.D.’s so good with a horse, and obviously he always makes whatever he rides look outstanding,” Summers said. “But I’d seen him ride that horse for two years. That horse didn’t ever make a mistake, and so I just hounded him and hounded him.”
Yates had been riding and finishing the horse for a client for five years after the client injured his back. Prior, Joe had been started by a trainer in Iowa, and Yates put the finishing touches on him. Luckily for Summers, Yates saw the opportunity for Joe to succeed elsewhere, so he got the call. After the Spicer Gripp Memorial Roping in August 2022, Summers and Yates arranged for him to try Joe out.
Summers headed to the Northwest after the Spicer Gripp and was able to stop by Yates’ place. All it took was one steer for him to know he needed him. Summers went on to Pendleton, and Joe waited for him at Yates’. The deal was finished on Summers’ way home. The team went on to win the Capitalist in October, a roping held in Chickasha, Oklahoma, by Kaleb Driggers and Kollin VonAhn, a setup much different from the BFI.
“That just shows to me how good he is,” Summers said. “Their roping’s in a smaller building over there, a totally different setup than this, and that horse stood out there as well. I have to give a lot of props to that horse.”
Riding Joe at the Feist was a no-brainer as the horse has the patience and speed necessary to be successful on the 20-foot score.
“He just scores outstanding and can really, really run,” Summers said. “He’s not a racehorse, but he can really run, and he knows how to gather it up going to a cow. There’s no waste of time. And here, when you get to running so fast, it’s hard for one to gather up and collect and serve them up for your heeler. And he does that exceptionally.”
For Yates, Joe marks the fourth horse he has either ridden or trained to be named the Top Head Horse of the BFI. And the title comes just one year after Yates rode Joe at the Feist himself. Seeing Summers tackle the accolade, however, impresses Yates.
“The horse has just got a good mind and scores good and does his job,” said Yates. “I thought he looked outstanding today. It was pretty impressive for me to watch that he rode him that good, and I thought that horse looked really good.”
Summers is no stranger to the winner circle, but this win is different. Being recognized for the equine partner he rides is a testament to what he’s been working on.
“It’s big,” Summers explained. “I heeled my whole life up until three years ago. And then I started heading and I got lucky and became very close with Trevor. I looked up to him my whole life, and he’s always rode great horses. So, when we talked about it, he said, ‘Well, we just got to find the best horses.’ He’s had a big part in that. And so, every time I come to this roping, I’m always trying to ride a good one, and I always want to win the award. And I hadn’t done it yet, so when it happened today it was a pretty great feeling.”