2023 Head Horse of the Year Mr Joes Shadow Bar

2023 Head Horse of the Year Mr Joes Shadow Bar

Clint Summers’ secret weapon is anything but average.

Clint Summers and Mr Joes Shadow Bar heading a steer.

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

By Lane Karney for The American Quarter Horse Journal 

Clint Summers has earned a reputation for rodeo horsepower. He’s headed to his third Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which runs December 7-16 in Las Vegas, and is part of the exclusive list of NFR team roping switch-enders, who’ve both headed and heeled at the Super Bowl of Rodeo. Clint made his first appearance heeling for 2017 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion header Erich Rogers in 2018, and returned in 2021 heading for Ross Ashford. This year, Clint will nod his head, roping with 13-time NFR heeler Jake Long. 

Clint wisely placed heavy emphasis on his arsenal of head horses when he made the transition from professional heeling to heading at the highest level. The top 25 in the world standings concur that Clint’s Mr Joes Shadow Bar, better known at the barn as “Joe,” is the 2023 Nutrena Head Horse of the Year, presented by AQHA. 

Joe is a 2011 bay gelding by Mr Joes Bar Song and out of Princess Hailstone by Nick Eyed Cody. He was bred by Randy and Treva Smyser of Sheridan, Missouri. 

“It’s not every day you find one like him. You would never think he can run and do the things he can do, because he’s so laid back. Normally when a horse can run like that, they get pretty amped up, but his heart doesn’t hardly beat when you ride in the box,” says Clint, 32, of Lake City, Florida. “Joe’s so laid back, and the same whether you’re out in the warm-up arena or riding in the box.”

This story can’t be told without mention of two other iconic NFR switch-enders. Clint purchased the 2011 brown gelding from 33-time National Finals (22-time National Finals Rodeo and 11 National Finals Steer Roping) qualifier and AQHA Professional Horseman J. D. Yates.

“I got Joe last fall on my way home from Pendleton. I tried him in August, but J. D. let me leave him there until I got done in the Northwest. The rest has been history. That horse has been very, very helpful for me and my family,” says Clint, who also rode Joe to 2023 Head Horse of the Bob Feist Invitational honors.

The other impactful mention is that of the King of the Cowboys, 26-time PRCA World Champion and three-time AQHA World Champion Trevor Brazile. When it comes to making the move from heeling to heading, and knowing the importance of great horses, who better for Clint to lean on.

“When I quit heeling, Trevor had a big influence on it and told me he’d help me. He was always known for having the best horses and being the very best. The only way I was going to do it was if he was behind me 100 percent. I needed his help, and he has been all-in,” Clint says. “We’ve talked about every horse I’ve bought, even if he doesn’t come from him.”

Because riding great horses is at the forefront of Clint’s roping program, being honored by his peers as riding the very best in 2023 holds a special place for him.

“That’s a big award. Obviously, I try to get the best horses I can get my hands on. But I want to be known for having some of the very best. I work at that, so to get recognized with this award is special and gratifying,” Clint says. “I’ve been lucky to have Joe and a big support system in my family and friends. I wouldn’t be able to win this if I didn’t have them on my side.”

Tyler and Jessi Wade’s Espuela Bro, “Spur,” and Nelson Wyatt’s LR Gatlin, “Colt,” finished in a tie for this year’s reserve head horse of the year.