When bulldogger Bryan Fields crossed paths for the first time with his bulldogging horse, Jackpot, he wasn't overly impressed.
That was two years ago.
Meyer Fields, Bryan's older brother, had owned the 11-year-old dark brown gelding. "When he [Meyer] tried him out I told him not to because I didn't think he'd ever make it," said Bryan Fields, who's ranked 14th in the Jack Daniel's World Standings. "Then that fall when I got back home I was riding him some and he worked pretty good."
Fields, who lives in Conroe, Texas, ended up buying the horse and the pair finished their improbable run last year at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. This year, the dynamic duo has hooked up for another great season, and on Oct. 14, Jackpot was recognized as the American Quarter Horse Association's steer wrestling horse of the year.
The AQHA honors the top three tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and steer wrestling horses each year in the PRCA. Horse owners receive a bonus and a bronze for their accomplishment. The top PRCA and WPRA timed-event contestants conduct the voting.
"Jackpot scores well, runs hard, does the same things every time," said Fields, a four-time Wrangler NFR qualifier. "I've ridden him almost every where this season and it doesn't matter if it's a long score or a short score." Fields won the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo on Jackpot last winter.
Jackpot, now 13, is a gelding that stands 14.3 hands and is gentle as a kid's pony, Fields said.
Fields isn't the only cowboy who is singing Jackpot's praises. Bulldoggers Luke Branquinho (Los Alamos, Calif.), Kenny Coppini (Tillamook, Ore.), Chad Biesemeyer (Stephenville, Texas) and Jeff Corbello (Iowa, La.) also have cashed in on Jackpot.
"He does everything a guy needs," Branquinho said of Jackpot. "He's good in the box, scores good and always gives you a chance to win first. There are a lot of good horses out there, but he's one of the best ones I've seen."
Branquinho won about $16,000 on Jackpot during the fall's Northwest run. "I think anybody can get on him and win on him," Branquinho said. "He's solid."
Here are the AQHA winners and their owners:
1. Topper—Trent Walls/Stran Smith
2. Rock—Trevor Brazile
3. Luke—Chris Lybbert /Johnny Emmons
1. Jackpot—Bryan Fields
2. Willy—Curtis Cassidy
3. Boss—Steiner Ranch/Frank Thompson
Team roping heading:
1. Walt—Travis Tryan
2. Buddy—Trevor Brazile
3. Megazord—Tee Woolman
Team roping heeling:
1. Potato Chip—Dugan Kelly
2. Charlie Brown—Rachel Jones/Kirt Jones
3. Ike—Clay O'Brien Cooper
1. Tally—Nathan Williams/Darlene Kasper
2. Rocky— Kelly Kaminski
3. Roundpen—Peggy Dube/Tammy Key
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