Team Roping Header & Healer Stock Awards

Team Roping: Header

Team Roping: Heeler

horse of the year

horse of the year



Owned by Tuftin McLeod, Waldeck, Sask

Owned by Tristin Woolsey, Nanton, Alta.

To win the Heading Horse of the Year Award is a big deal — but to win it in your rookie year is nothing short of amazing. Mind you, neither Tuftin McLeod nor his gelding, Cactus, are strangers to awards. The 15.1hh classic buckskin was a star on the Canadian Cowboys Assoc. circuit. They won the Year End Award three times, and Horse of the Year twice. He is simply known as Cactus. “I know he has a registered name, but I’ve never seen his papers,” laughs McLeod. It was six years ago that his uncle lent the young cowboy the horse for a year after he lost his horse to a freak lightning strike. “Cactus was green, but I got him going pretty good, and then I bought him.” Cactus wasn’t a cakewalk — in fact, he was anything but. “He was hard-headed at first, and it took me a year or two before he was good,” says McLeod. “He’d get really strong — chargey and get hard to control — but he has matured.” Now 12, Cactus has really “come into himself,” says McLeod, who ropes with his younger brother, Tyce. “He’s the type of horse that’s super calm and cool — but he makes a game out of getting caught in the pasture. He makes you work to catch him, but once he’s caught, he loads himself in the trailer; follows me around like a puppy,” laughs McLeod. “There is one thing about him though; he only has to look at a bale to gain weight. If he’s at home on a bale he’d probably weigh 1,400 lbs,” he laughs. “He is stocky. He’s a real tough horse, too — and he’s got a ton of try,” he says. The Saskatchewan cowboy was humbled that his peers voted for Cactus. “It was sure a big surprise when I got the call that he had won,” he said. “This award is huge, and I sure appreciate it.” — TM Blazing fast, strong-willed, good-looking and competitive with catlike reflexes, this horse has it all going on, and now everyone else knows about him too — thanks to the heelers that rope against him. The gelding with the unassuming nickname of Harry has been in Tristin Woolsey’s string for a while now, and he’s got nothing but praise for the 15hh gelding. “I’ve had him since he was five or six,” says Woolsey. “I started him as a rope horse for some clients, but he was too much horse for what they wanted, so we bought him. Then I bought some colts and my dad and I did some trading, and Harry became mine.” The young cowboy went pro in 2015, and Harry has been his partner since the beginning. The duo has been steadily climbing in the standings. “We won Wainwright, Ponoka, Coronation and split the win at TeePee Creek,” says Woolsey. “All of the rodeos we hit were up here in Canada.” The young pro was quick to answer when asked about his favourite run. “I’d probably say Ponoka, because it’s a tougher setup,” says Woolsey. “It’s a long score — it’s not like every other rodeo where you start in a box. You run down a long alley and into the big arena, and we won it.” Whether a long or short run out, Harry is easy to please; judging from results, every style of team roping set-up suits the 14-year-old grulla. “He gets along with every horse too, and he’s easy to travel with. He’s honest, but,” pauses Woolsey, “he’s not the kind of horse you want to take to jackpots. He gets a little strong and gets pushing down the arena,” he laughs. Woolsey knows the calibre of top heeling horses that are out there and was gracious in his gratitude. “It’s so great he won, and I want to thank everyone for voting for him,” said Woolsey. “It’s an honour.” — TM

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