COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — October 11, 2023 — Success in the sport of rodeo doesn’t fall on just the human athlete. Their horses play just as big of a factor when they step foot in the arena. The Nutrena Horse of the Year presented by American Quarter Horse Association awards provides recognition to professional rodeo’s top horses. Making the award extra special to each Women’s Professional Rodeo Association member is the fact that their fellow competitors are the ones who vote on this prestigious award.
In the barrel racing, two horses trained and futuritied by Janna Beam Brown were voted No. 1 and No. 2 WPRA/AQHA Nutrena Barrel Horse of the Year — Fame Fire Rocks and Jets Top Gun, respectively.
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Winning WPRA/AQHA Barrel Horse of the Year for the first time was Fame Fire Rocks, ridden by Taycie Matthews and owned by Mission Ranch LLC.
“Poprocks,” a daughter of Firewaterontherocks and out of W R Aces Fame by Dash Ta Fame, has carried Taycie not only to a College National Finals Rodeo championship in 2023 and to the winner’s circle in Salinas (California) but also to her first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification. Coming in ranked No. 4, Taycie of Wynne, Arkansas, has earned $144,161 after competing in 79 rodeos.
A horse that was meant to be her mother Kim’s horse joined the Matthews’ barn in January of 2022 after Janna Beam Brown trained and rode the now 6-year-old sorrel mare to nearly $50,000 in earnings as a futurity horse in 2021. Taycie’s older sister, Jaylie first rode the mare at the CNFR in Casper in 2022, winning a round. Since then, Taycie has laid claim to the mare after finishing as reserve WPRA Rookie of the Year in 2022.
Finishing second was Jets Top Gun, owned by Busby Quarter Horses and ridden by Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, who carried his jockey to the Reno, Calgary and Salt Lake City titles, just to name a few this summer. It was in Salt Lake City that Pozzi Tonozzi crossed the $3 million mark in WPRA career earnings — her EquiStat total career earnings as the No. 3 all-time winningest barrel racer stand at more than $4.4 million, with over $300,000 still to be added after her huge week at the 2023 Pink Buckle Barrel Race.
The 2015 gelding by Blazin Jetolena and out of GL Famous First Lady by Dash Ta Fame joined Tonozzi’s string in February 2023 with more than $350,000 in earnings already under his belt with his trainer Janna Brown. Since then with Tonozzi, “Benny” has become the leading progeny of sire Blazin Jetolena with now more than $581,000 in EquiStat reported earnings.
Rounding out the top three in the barrel racing was Fiery Miss West, owned and bred by Gary Westergren and ridden by Jessica Routier. Routier claimed the NFR Open title in the mud this summer aboard “Missy” in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Routier will be making her sixth appearance at the NFR in December, all thanks to the 2011 mare by Firewater Frenchman and out of Frenchmans Bo Dashus by Royal Quick Dash.
2023 WPRA/AQHA Barrel Horse of the Year
1st – FAME FIRE ROCKS, ridden by Taycie Matthews, owned by Mission Ranch LLC, bred by Rustic River Ranch. 2017 mare, Firewaterontherocks x W R Aces Fame x Dash Ta Fame
2nd place – JETS TOP GUN, ridden by Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, owned and bred by Busby Quarter Horses. 2015 gelding, Blazin Jetolena x GL Famous First Lady x Dash Ta Fame
3rd place – FIERY MISS WEST, ridden by Jessica Routier, owned and bred by Gary A Westergren. 2011 mare, Firewater Frenchman x Frenchmans Bo Dashus x Royal Quick Dash
Article courtesy WPRA with modification from Barrel Horse News. For more, visit wpra.com.