2023 Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year Stylish Bugsy 

2023 Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year Stylish Bugsy 

Hanchey’s Stylish Bugsy gets cowboy nod as horse of the year.

Tie-down roper Shane Hanchey and Stylish Bugsy roping a calf.

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By Kendra Santos for The American Quarter Horse Journal 

It’s a well-known fact that high-end horsepower is vital to success in all of rodeo’s timed events. Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion tie-down roper Shane Hanchey realized early in his rodeo career that the good ones are worth a little extra to him. His 11-year-old bay Stylish Bugsy just earned billing as 2023 Nutrena Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year, Presented by AQHA. It’s the second time a horse from Shane’s herd has earned this coveted cowboy award. 

“Horsepower is especially important for a guy who’s 5’10” and 145 pounds,” says Shane, who lives in Carmine, Texas, with his Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racer and National Finals Breakaway Roping qualifier wife, Taylor. “Growing up with my brother and uncle, who train horses, I knew young how much horsemanship this job entailed. Between that and my size, I knew that in order to have success, I’d better be a better horseman than most.”

Shane has had high horse expectations since riding Smokin Reata while climbing the rodeo ranks.  

“I got off on the right foot getting to ride ‘Reata’ in junior high, high school, college, the NFR and to a world title,” says Shane, who this year qualified for his 14th straight NFR and is closing in on $2.5 million in career earnings. “So, I understood what a good horse felt like and how to keep one working.” 

Shane had some great ones between Reata and “Bugsy,” including 2017 Horse of the Year Simon Cow, aka “Si.” There were some sad, hard-luck stories for some of them, which only adds to Shane’s gratitude for Bugsy. 

“I was ready to find my next horse,” he says. “Nothing seemed like a fit. Then fast forward to November of 2022 when I bought Bugsy.”

Bugsy is a 2012 bay gelding by A Dera Dual Lena and out of A Stylish Junebug by Docs Stylish Oak. He was bred by Louis and Karen Smith of Newkirk, Oklahoma. Bugsy and Shane qualified for the senior tie-down at this year’s Nutrena AQHA World Championship Show.

Shane bought Bugsy from six-time NFR tie-down roper Adam Gray, and it was anything but instant success. 

“I assumed I’d win on him from the get-go, because Bugsy’s a great horse,” Shane says. “But it didn’t work at first. Our first rodeo together was the 2022 NFR, which was pretty unfair to him and me, and I had the worst NFR in my career. My wife told me I needed to take Bugsy to some jackpots, amateur rodeos or whatever it took. Lo and behold, she was right. 

“Since last spring, it has been really fun for both Bugsy and me. We always talk about how important confidence is to cowboys, but that’s really important to horses, too. Once Bugsy started to settle in and turn it on, he has hardly made a mistake.”

Bugsy also helped a few of Shane’s cowboy friends in 2023. Beau Cooper and Hunter Herrin rode him a couple times each, and Bugsy helped four-time champ of the world Caleb Smidt win $39,000 at two of the regular-season rodeo finales in Puyallup, Washington, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

“It means a lot that the other cowboys voted for Bugsy,” Shane says. “I think they saw my struggles with him, then how it started to click and other guys getting on and winning on him, too.

“Bugsy’s so good in the box scoring, can really run and never takes your throw away. At 15.1 hands and over 1,000 pounds, Bugsy’s the biggest horse I’ve ridden. When people watch him on The Cowboy Channel then come up to us at a rodeo, it’s always his size they can’t believe.”

Shane’s not about to complain, but if he had the chance to fill one tiny hole in Bugsy, it’d be to stop him from “getting buddied up and nickering all the time,” he says. “He tests my patience every day.”

But Shane rode Bugsy at all but two rodeos in 2023, and this horse has re-energized this now-34-year-old cowboy. 

“I wanted a horse that’s good in any situation,” he says. “His scoring and running make him great in the outdoor summertime setups. The faster indoor setups weren’t Bugsy’s strong suit at first, but he has transitioned with me. I’ve won rounds at Calgary on him and also won my set at Cheyenne on him. Those are two opposite setups, and he shined at both.

“I don’t think a horse can ever replace what Reata did in my life, because he made me who I am today. When I got Reata, I didn’t think I’d make the high school finals, much less 14 straight NFRs. But I’m extra grateful for Bugsy and am so excited to have him.”

Chuchara Sally, who’s owned and ridden by Ty Harris, finished second in the voting. Haven Meged’s Seven S Tomahawk, aka “Smoke,” was third amongst world-class tie-down roping horses in 2023.