Logan Medlin’s heel horse, Tongue River Ranch-bred 6-year-old TRR Freckles Holidoc, has some big shoes to fill behind his two-time AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse of the Year Drago, but so far, he’s been a gamer.
“Cantina” made the short round of the 2022 American Rope Horse Futurity Association World Championships Oct. 21, 2022, and just two months later subbed in for Medlin’s famous Nita Win Playboy on rodeo’s biggest stage. Along the way, he’s been one of only two heel horses to pick up two go-round wins.
“That was not an easy decision,” Medlin said. “That horse is where I started. I owe everything to that horse. But he’s been a little bit sore this fall, and Dr. Dorris back in Stephenville with Stephenville Equine has done a great job of getting him to the point where i thought we could give him a go out here, and I rode him the first three nights. He wasn’t crippled or sore, but he just wasn’t him. It cost us some money a couple different times. It was hard to get off of him. It’s hard to get off of the horse that you’ve rode as much as I have him. I have full confidence in this 6-year-old I have, and I love the horse. He’s green, and he might make a mistake every now and then, but he’s electric and he makes things happen.”
This is the second horse to come out of the American Rope Horse Futurity Association ranks to appear at the Finals—with Cody Snow starting the week on Bert McGill’s Play Sleeping the first half of the week—but the first to show in the futurity and back into the box at the NFR in the same year.
“Thankfully, I took a step of faith and took him this summer and used him as a second horse,” Medlin said. “It would have been really hard to get off Drago if I’d have left Cantina at home. I left a great horse at home that would have been rock solid as a second horse because I thought this one could be better. And so I took him and thankfully I rode him some this summer, but obviously nowhere where there were 18,000 people, but obviously this is something that’s been on my brain for the last three or four nights. But he handled it fine. The first night, I didn’t give him a fair chance. I rode him too much like a green horse. But in Round 5, I told myself if he messes up, fine, but I’m just going to ride him like a heel horse and we’ll see what happens.”
Medlin, with header Coleman Proctor, has picked up $77,543.02 at the 2022 NFR.
No surprises, though, that Cantina has been able to step up. He’s by Pepcid, the Tongue River Ranch stallion who sired Tripp Townsend’s Riata Buckle champion heel horse, as well as countless winners in the cow horse arena and in the ranch rodeo pen.
“About 18 years ago, we were looking for a Pepto horse,” Bubba Smith, Tongue River ranch manager, said. “We were the first ranch out this way to try the Peptos as ranch horses. We looked all over for one, and we couldn’t find one that fit us. A trainer told me he knew of where there was a Pepto horse, in Canada. He was limited on showing, but the guy said he was good. We met the lady who had him in Wyoming and we brought him back here. Pepcid was a good horse from the start. He was ready to go show, but we chose not to show him because we turned all our studs out, and when you’re needing him and you’re out on mares, that makes it tough.”
Until just last year, Pepcid had always pasture bred the Tongue River mares. But with the massive interest from team ropers in his offspring, Pepcid went to live at the 6666s to breed more mares during breeding season.
“The ropers have figured him out,” Smith said. “At the Riata Buckle, there were a ton of Pepcids. They’re so trainable, and they’re the smoothest traveling horses you’ll ever ride. Pepcids are real trainable. They’re smart, number one, but you don’t have to be the best hand in the world to make a good horse out of a Pepcid. But if you are a good hand, you’ve really got some exceptional horses. We ranch rodeo on them, and all the cowboys like riding them. We have a bunch of Pepcid mares and they’re producers. We’re crossing them on a little of everything.”
When Medlin bought Cantina, the ranch was thinking of using him as a junior stallion. So he had already bred a handful of mares. But when the chance came for Medlin to own him and show what he could really do, it was time for him to be a gelding.
“That was because of Logan, because he’s a great young man,” Smith said. “We want to get a horse out in the hands of people like that, because of his character, and that guy can rope.”