Not Their First Rodeo

Not Their First Rodeo

Patrionic Dash and KR Famous Tequilla came off the racetrack and rocketed into rodeo life.

Steer wrestler Stetson Jorgensen dives for his steer off of Patrionic Dash in Round 6 of the 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

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Editor's Note: This story was published in  The American Quarter Horse Journal after the 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in which these two horses competed for the first time. This year, Patrionic Dash is making waves and money for Stetson Jorgensen at the  2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

By Becky Newell


What do racehorses do after they hang up their racing shoes?

Well, after a few starts on the racetrack, Patrionic Dash and KR Famous Tequilla left their race careers to make their names – and some money – in the rodeo arena. As a result, both horses’ riders made the cut to compete at the 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December in Las Vegas.

Patrionic Dash and steer wrestler Stetson Jorgensen, who were at their first NFR, won Round 7 and placed in four other rounds to earn nearly $108,000 at the finals. Jennifer Sharp and KR Famous Tequilla, also NFR first-timers, placed in two rounds and won nearly $23,000 at the NFR, which Jennifer considers pretty good considering that she was riding with a busted-up leg.

‘Tequila’s’ Story
In 2014, Jennifer Sharp and husband Robbie were previewing horses at a sale in Fort Smith, Arkansas, when they came across a 3-year-old that, on paper, looked really good. He was by Dash Ta Fame – and what barrel racer doesn’t love him as a sire – and out of a Chicks Beduino mare name Tequikillya. Further research showed that KR Famous Tequilla had won a couple thousand dollars in 10 starts on the racetrack – another piece of his resume that they liked.

So they bought him. 

“He was started on barrels, but he was green,” says Jennifer, who with Robbie has made a business out of training barrel horses, including Tequila. “We liked his papers, we liked that he had been on the racetrack, and he was just beautiful. So we brought him home, and Robbie started riding him, got him more broke. He was super-easy from the very beginning. Anything you asked him to do, he would just do it.”

Within a few months, Jennifer was riding Tequila.

“He came on really fast,” Jennifer says of the now-10-year-old, 15.2-hand sorrel stallion, whom she says has a big personality. “He’s very sweet, wants to be loved on. He doesn’t want to be out in the pasture. He wants to be inside his stall, in charge of what’s going on in the barn. He loves all animals, especially the barn cats.”

So with a little more than $90,000 in earnings for the year, Jennifer and Tequila were firmly on their way to their first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2019.

Then they encountered an obstacle.

“I got kicked by a horse November 15,” Jennifer explains. “I had a fractured shin and fibula head, and have a slight tear in my PCL (a knee ligament) in my right leg. It was really scary headed into the NFR, as I hadn’t been walking but three or four days before we got there. We were a little skeptical on how it was going to turn out. All things considered, I had a really good finals.

“I hit barrels, but a lot of that was my fault, because it’s my right leg that’s injured and I wasn’t able to ride correctly,” she continues. “I won money the first round, and to me that was just icing on the cake. That was pretty special, and it gave me confidence for the rest of the week.”

The duo finished in the top 15 in the world standings for the year, and after the NFR, they headed home to Texas for some well-deserved R&R.
    
Patrionic Dash
To have a good run, a steer wrestler relies on two horses – the one he’s riding, as well as the one his hazer is piloting. Stetson Jorgensen had been bringing along a green mare during the 2018 and 2019 pro rodeo seasons, until he started borrowing rides on Garrett Henry’s mare, Patrionic Dash, aka “Mable.”

The then-7-year-old race-bred mare made all the difference in his goes, enough so that he qualified for his first NFR in 2019.

“We go to a Heritage Place Sale once a year to look for broodmare prospects,” says Garrett, a Wyoming rancher who bought the mare for $15,000 at the Heritage Place sale in 2014. “I raise a lot of performance horses for barrel racing and steer wrestling. I look for horses that look like cow horses, but are race bred. I really liked that Mable is by First Down Dash. I watched four of her races, and she just shot out of the gates.”

First Down Dash was the 1987 world champion racing American Quarter Horse, won nearly $1 million during his race career, is in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and has sired the earners of almost $89 million. Mable’s dam, Patrionic, won three of five starts on the track and had a little more than $55,000 in earnings before she was retired. Patrionic is by Game Patriot, who earned a quarter of a million dollars on the track and has sired the earners of more than $30 million. 

After Garrett bought the 15-hand sorrel mare, he went back to her stall to look at her again and was met by a man who offered to buy her from him at a profit. But Garrett politely turned him down.

“He said – and I’ll never forget this – ‘Son, you better cock your hammer if you’re gonna bulldog off that horse,’” Garrett says. “That man had also seen her race videos and could tell how explosive and strong she was out of the gate."

Garrett got Mable home and put her with his trainer for 60 days.

“He put a good handle on her,” Garrett says. “He called me and said, ‘She’s got a ton of talent.’”

So Garrett put her to work on the ranch. A year or so later, he trained her for team roping. Then, he started using her as a hazing horse for steer wrestling.

“Then I sold my steer wrestling horse, and I moved Mable over to that side of the steer,” Garrett adds.

And that’s where Stetson, who hails from Blackfoot, Idaho, entered the picture.

“Stetson spent the winters with us – he’d help on the ranch and never let us pay him,” Garrett says. “He had a fabulous year in 2018, and then he needed to return the horse he’d borrowed that year. So because I wasn’t going to rodeo as much, I called and offered him Mable. It was a way to pay him back for all the help he’d been on the ranch. He’s one of the few people I would send a horse with.”

Even though Mable is a mare, Stetson, says she is very easy-going.

“She can be a little pushy, but that’s the racehorse in her,” Stetson says. “She doesn’t prance around, though. She leaves so flat out of the box, with her head low and her first step is down and forward. That’s what’s so crucial, and she definitely has it."

Proud owner Garrett thinks Mable got better from one round to the next at the NFR.

“That’s a hard set-up,” he adds, “and with it being the first time for both Stetson and Mable, they had all the talent in the world, and they did well.”

Stetson and Mable finished third in the overall world standings, with nearly $200,000 in earnings for the season.

Their plans?

“Stetson is going to keep going on her,” Garrett says. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me that he takes really good care of her on the road. We’re going to pull a couple of embryos from her this spring, and then she can go back to work. It has been fun to watch Stetson’s dream of qualifying for the finals come true, but it has also been fun to watch our dream of getting a horse to the NFR come true.”