Article courtesy WPRA with modification from Barrel Horse News

Success in the sport of barrel racing or breakaway roping doesn’t just fall on the human athlete but also the equine athlete. While the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association and American Quarter Horse Association have annually honored the top equine partners that carry WPRA barrel racers to the winner’s circle dating back to 1989, this year marks the first year breakaway roping horses are also being recognized.

The Nutrena Horse of the Year presented by AQHA were unveiled October 14 following the conclusion of voting by the top 25 in each respective event. 

Taking top honors in the barrel racing is Famous Lil Jet, ridden by Jordon Briggs and owned by Jordon and her husband, Justin. The 2014 gelding was bred by Busby Quarter Horses and is by all-time leading barrel racing sire Dash Ta Fame and out of Blazin Black Beauty by Blazin Jetolena out of Lady Perks.

Jordon Briggs works then-3-year-old Famous Lil Jet at her home in 2017. Photo by Kailey Sullins

“I’m really proud that other people—my peers, people I’ve competed against and looked up to—that they think that of him as well,” said Briggs upon learning that “Rollo” won this coveted title. “He’s very consistent and seems to know not to hit a barrel. Ever since he was a futurity colt, I told my husband, if any horse deserves to go make 10 runs in that arena (Thomas and Mack), it’s this horse . . . I just didn’t know if I’d be the one to take him or sell him to someone else to do it.”

Jordon, a 2009 National Finals Rodeo qualifier and daughter of Kristie Peterson, has seen her fair share of top-notch horses throughout her life, both in the rodeo arena and the futurity ranks. Rollo had that special quality many competitors search their whole lives to find.

“My whole life, my favorite thing has been training futurity colts. I trained them, sold them and started over; trained them, sold them and started over,” Jordon said. “But I knew I’d never be able to train another one like him, so I just couldn’t make myself sell him. He means the world to my whole family. We all wake up to feed Rollo every day; he’s very special to all of us.”

Rollo has carried Briggs to pro rodeo wins in Dodge City, Kansas; Abilene, Kansas; Red Lodge, Montana; Fort Smith, Arkansas; and to her second NFR qualification. They also tied for the win in Guymon, Oklahoma, with second-place 2021 Horse of the Year DM Sissy Hayday, owned and ridden by Hailey Kinsel.

Rounding out the top three in the barrel racing category resulted in a tie with Fiery Miss West (“Missy”), ridden by Jessica Routier and owned by Gary Westergren, and HR Fameskissandtell (“Kiss”), owned and ridden by Shelley Morgan.

2021 AQHA/WPRA Nutrena Barrel Racing Horses of the Year

1. Famous Lil Jet, “Rollo,” ridden by Jordon Briggs and owned by Justin and Jordon Briggs

2. DM Sissy Hayday, “Sister,” ridden and owned by Hailey Kinsel

3. (tie) Fiery Miss West, “Missy,” ridden by Jessica Routier and owned by Gary A Westergren

 3. (tie) HR Fameskissandtell, “Kiss,” ridden and owned by Shelley Morgan

On the breakaway side winning the inaugural Nutrena Horse of the Year presented by AQHA title, Shelby Boisjoli’s Nowimpy Turns took top honors. “Onna” is a horse she has relied on in 2021 and recently carried her to the win at the ProRodeo Tour Finale in Salinas to return to the top of the world standings.

“She’s kind of a quirky horse, but she’s also just a big teddy bear,” Boisjoli said of her 6-year old mare. “She’s one of those horses who doesn’t like to do bad . . . she knows when she does bad and gets really upset about it. I just love her; she means the world to me and I literally cherish every single run with her.”

2021 WPRA Breakaway Roping Rookie of the Year Madison Outhier credits her horse Allo Gallo Colonel (“Rooster”) for her success—they finished second in the Horse of the Year voting. Erin Johnson, who has won three WPRA breakaway roping world titles, has ridden Husker Be Smokin (“Chico”) to a third-place ranking heading into the National Finals Breakaway Roping and a third-place finish in the Horse of the Year voting in 2021.

2021 AQHA/WPRA Nutrena Breakaway Roping Horses of the Year

1. No Wimpy Turns, “Onna,” ridden and owned by Shelby Boisjoli

2. Allo Gallo Colonel, “Rooster,” ridden and owned by Madison Outhier

3. Husker Be Smokin, “Chico,” ridden by Erin Johnson and owned by Darnell & Erin Johnson

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