Jessica Routier Barrel Horse of Year 2023 by Alaina Stangle

Horses selected as award winners in the Badlands Circuit


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Minot, N.D. (October 30, 2023) – The Badlands Circuit has awarded its Horses of the Year Award in each rodeo event.

In the steer wrestling, the Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year was won by Woody, owned by River Voigt, Killdeer, N.D. The Haze Horse of the Year is Junior, owned by Kody Woodward, Dupree, S.D.

The Tie-Down Horse of the Year went to Sheer Can Do “Jewels” owned by Jason Schaffer, Broadus, Montana.

In the team roping, the Head Horse of the Year was won by Bodie Mattson’s Let R Buck Pendleton, “Pendleton,” and the Heel Horse of the Year went to Ill Be A Peanut “Jag” owned by Riley Curuchet, Kaycee, Wyo.

For the WPRA, the Barrel Horse of the Year was won by Jessica Routier’s Fiery Miss West, “Missy,” and the Rising Star Horse went to Stone Cold Stinson “Rocky,” owned by Molly Otto, Grand Forks, N.D.

The Breakaway Roping Horse of the Year is Lavaca Sting “Rollo” owned by Rickie Fanning, Spearfish, S.D. Jason Schaffer’s tie-down horse Jewels carried Schaffer “to a lot of wins this summer,” he said. “It was fun.” Schaffer and his wife Shauna got the five-year-old gray two years ago, and said she was easy to train. “She wanted to do it from the get-go.” And her size works to her benefit. “She’s bigger than most calf horses, not fine-boned. She’s a wellbuilt horse.” But her strongest trait is her heart. “She has heart and grit. She’s got a lot of heart, and that’s the biggest thing.”

Woody, the Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year, started his career as a hazing horse but Joe Nelson, who owned him before Voigt bought him, switched him to the steer wrestling. “He liked it better,” the Watford City, N.D. cowboy said. “He always wanted to run. If you went to pull on him, he just hated it. We figured if we switched him over, he would really do well, and he has.” Nelson’s horse was injured in June, and in July, a knee injury took Voigt out of competition, so Nelson asked to ride Woody. Nelson estimates that over $50,000 was won on Woody at PRCA rodeos this year, among the five cowboys who rode him: Nelson and Tyler Thorson (who both made the circuit finals), plus Landon Sivertsen, Parker Sandstrom and Rope Smith. “He’s just a really neat horse,” he said. “He’s super easy to get along with, he’s super good in the box, he runs hard, and he’s easy to catch at the back end. He’s the kind you want to ride.”

Bodie Mattson’s Pendleton, an eleven-year-old sorrel gelding “is a one of a kind freak athlete,” he said. The Head Horse of the Year is out of a mare owned by Mattson and his dad, Jay. Jay broke him and both men trained and seasoned him. “He’s one of the toughest horses I’ve ever ridden,” the Sturgis, S.D. man said. “He has a lot of heart, he scores exceptionally well, and he has an unbelievable amount of run. His speed is in control, so you don’t feel like you’re running past the steer. He’s really smooth.” Mattson said the horse’s emotions are “dry. He’s a horse that doesn’t show much emotion. He’s buddied up to my calf roping horse and they’re pretty good friends, but other than that, he sticks to his job.”

Horses of the Year Awards are voted on by the contestants in their respective events. This year’s Badlands Circuit Finals took place in Minot Oct. 13-15 with champions determined in each event. For more information, visit

Photos: Alaina Stangle