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30 May, 2023

HORSES OF THE YEAR 2022

 The rodeo contestants often get the limelight as the elite athletes in which they are but without a good mount, the gold buckles are harder to come by. When you think of what makes a good athlete, you’d imagine all their strongest qualities wouldn’t be the same. What qualities make a good animal athlete? 

Is it the competitive edge that makes a good horse? 
“Jellybean” owned by Shane Kenny has a competitive edge that has not only earned himself well over half a million dollars in lifetime earnings but also claimed numerous cowboys multiple gold buckles. Jellybean has a unique personality that allows any calibre of roper to get on him and have a chance at the money. Just by watching him make run after run consecutively at most rodeos due to him being in such high demand, it isn’t hard to see his ability to outperform. Jellybean has travelled the length and breath of Australia not leaving many places without at least one cheque. His resume is as decorated and as lengthy as his rodeo career has been as he nears 20 years of age. It’s Jellybean’s world and we are just lucky to live in it; 2022 Rope and Tie Horse of the Year. 
Is it versatility that makes a good horse? 
Versatility is the ability to do many different things or to adjust to new conditions; none more versatile than “Deadly”. Deadly owned by Jane Ryan is the definition of big-hearted and willing to adjust to any given set-up, score and range of cattle. Jane and Deadly have a long list of accolades yet he still has one item left on his bucket list: teaching Jane’s daughters how to rope. Jane says that a lot of her confidence comes from knowing you can take Deadly to anywhere in the country to any situation and he’ll give her a chance to win. Not only has Deadly made Jane the roper she is today, he has helped numerous girls to the pay window all over the countryside. Jane and Deadly are always winners in the eyes of their fellow competitors hence why Deadly was presented 2022 Breakaway Horse of the Year.  
Is it consistency that makes a good horse? 
“Akka Dakka” owned by Leanne Caban shows consistency in every run she makes on him, within the 2022 season alone the duo had seventeen individual rodeo wins within the barrel racing. Akka Dakka has overcome all odds undergoing a kissing spine surgery, a long duration of rehabilitation and a lot of patience on Leanne’s behalf. Leanne and Akka Dakka are the ones that everyone comes to the fence to watch at every rodeo ; Akka Dakka is an incredible athlete accompanied by Leanne’s wealth of knowledge and ability to showcase Akka Dakka’s full potential they accumulated close to $44, 000 in the 2022 season making them the new record holders for most amount of money won in a single season in the barrel racing. 2022 Barrel Racing Horse of the Year is none other than Akka Dakka. 
Is it how passionate the horse is to how good they are? 
“Dave” owned by Shane Kenny started out his rodeo career with humble beginnings, he was trialled in all the events of the rodeo until Shane one day struck gold when he realised the only event Dave could excel in was the Steer Wrestling. Although Shane is now a retired steer wrestler himself, he continues to cart Dave all over Australia for the influx of competitors that mount out on him. Although Dave’s rodeo career has only been short so far, he has solidified himself as one of the best steer wrestling horses in the country with at least 4 people riding him every rodeo; 14 steer wrestlers used him as their mount at Nebo where he won $10, 000 in the one day. Dave although an exceptionally passionate athlete inside of the arena tends to always keep people on their toes outside of the arena passionately throwing in a bite on the back every now and again. Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year in 2022 was claimed by Dave. 
Is it resilience that makes a good horse? 
Steer Wrestlers wouldn’t get very far without a good hazer, more so a good hazing horse. “Scamp” also owned by Shane Kenny is the definition of resilience; he displays toughness, confidence and above all else character. It takes a lot of resilience to back  in the box or the Mount Isa alley way and run as fast as possible down it in a straight line back to back, run after run, rodeo after rodeo whilst staying sound physically and mentally. Scamp sustained an injury during the 2022 season whilst hazing which sidelined him for many months, he is a well-respected part of the Kenny’s line of horse’s thanks in part to his consistency, irreplaceable value, and resilience. In honour of Scamp’s resilient nature and toughness he was crowned the 2022 Hazing Horse of the Year. 
Is it reliability that makes a good horse? 
Reliability is referred to as being trustworthy and preforming consistently well, a quality that “Drifter” owned by Ben Smith shows time and time again. Drifter not only qualified Ben to the National Finals Rodeo, many others mounted him throughout the season to qualify also. Drifter is known for his reliability, power, and wicked fast speed and that is why many cowboys and cowgirls chose to mount out on him in the Team Roping, during the 2022 season alone his earnings exceeded $30,000. Drifter helped Ben to his first Australian Heading Championship which also cemented Drifter as the 2022 Heading Horse of the Year. 
Is it honesty that makes a good horse? 
“Boss” owned by Liam Davison is as honest as the day is long. Liam and Boss have gone on to win many rodeos, a small fortune and three Australian Heeling Championships. Liam and Boss are a combination that knows how to win and are always in contention for the gold buckle,  Boss’s honesty in doing the same thing every time combined with Liam’s extraordinary skills with a rope is hard to beat. Boss although a first-class heel horse, is also a remarkable heading horse proving he is also versatile. Liam and Boss are in a league of their own when it comes to the heeling which is why Boss has been crowded the 2022 Heeling Horse of the Year. 
Truth is all these incredible animal athletes display every quality mentioned plus some. They are all an asset to Pro Rodeo in Australia and we are grateful to have the opportunity to watch them thrive in their respected events. A moment of appreciation for the 2022 APRA Horses of the Year. 


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