The 2023 NFR-qualifying heel horses have pedigrees predictably loaded with cow horse bloodlines.
- Standings leader Wesley Thorp rode 9-year-old Juiced Up Cat, his 2020 American Rope Horse Association World Champion Heel Horse, to more than half of his ProRodeo earnings in 2023, with the horse’s total year earnings at $143,620 from the rodeos and jackpots. Another even more recent futurity horse, Logan Medlin’s TRR Freckles Holidoc, who has won $95,004 between the rodeos and the jackpots in 2023 according to Top-Tier Reporting through QData and EquiStat.
- Tongue River Ranch has two horses on this year’s list—Medlin’s TRR Freckles Holidoc and Colter Todd’s TRR Big Hustler (owned by Paul Eaves). TRR Freckles Holidoc is by Pepcid, while TRR Big Hustler is by TRR Big Iron.
- Tyler Worley rode two horses by Reys Dual Badger in 2023, the only stallion with two horses on the list this year. (To be clear, Western States Ranches late sire Hesa Sunofa Dun has two horses that made the Finals this year, but one is a head horse—Clint Summers’ WSR Hesa Alive—and one is a heel horse—Patrick Smith’s WSR Hesa Dunofa Lena.)
- Peptoboonsmal is the paternal grandsire of four different horses on this year’s list.
- There is little consistency on the maternal sire side of these horses’ papers, with no two horses having the same maternal grandsire on their papers.
- The average age of the horses on this list is 12.8 years, slightly younger than the head-horse side of the game.
- However, the oldest heel horse—Hugh Hefner, ridden by Paden Bray—is older than the oldest head horse by a year, at 20 years old in 2023 (though he’s grade, and that could be just an estimate).