UNCOMMON HORSE, UNCOMMON PROBLEM
Brandon Beers’ Head Horse of the Year, Jewel, misses a year of action due to an ovarian tumor.
In 2013, PRCA/AQHA Head Horse of the Year, Brandon Beers’ Jewel, made history as the frstever mare to win the distinction.
She won the award largely based on her incredible abilities to score, run, rate and face. Just a few months into 2013, she proved her worth when, at the Wildfre Open to the World, Beers and Cesar de la Cruz came back on their last steer as high team with a 9.5 second lead on the feld.
“We were running through some steers and making runs—but it was extreme,” Beers said.
So extreme, in fact, that when their last steer stepped toward, and then away from Beers, he jerked the steer down.
“I’d have been better off getting on somebody else’s horse and just go catching,” Beers realizes now. Yet, the mare showcased her unbelievable potential as a 9-year-old—and only got better as the year went on.
“She got easier to rope on through the year,” he said. At the Bob Feist Invitational, she was named top head horse. “By the time we got to Ellensburg (Wash.), she was outstanding.”
At Cheyenne, she carried Brandon to a tie in the second go-round with Riley Minor—who was also riding Jewel. By the time the regular season ended, the rest of the top ropers recognized her abilities and despite being new to the scene, selected her as the top horse in their game.
“When she’s good, it makes it feel too easy,” Beers said. “It spoils it. If you’re at the BFI or the Spicer Gripp, you can miss the barrier by a foot and it’s no big deal. Whatever everybody else is seeing, I’ll just see a little extra. It takes all the pressure of scoring off. I won frst and third on her at Scott Repp’s [WestStar Open in Ellensburg, Wash.]. You had to see the steer’s tail to the pin and I was seeing them tail a foot past the gate. I ran 10 steers and that was as much fun as I’ve had at any jackpot ever. It’s a big roping, all the same teams that are at the BFI are there, and I ran 10 within four hours, seeing every one of them a foot past the gate and the slowest I was was 7.7.”
Within a few months, though, Jewel was beginning to act out of character. While she was always a bit tough to handle on the ground—not letting people doctor her and being very intimidating to anyone around her back legs—she always worked in the arena and Beers was always able to work around her quirks.
She began to refuse to back into the box. Typically, she would hit the back of the box and be ready to go, but slowly her routine changed.
“I knew something was wrong,” Beers said. “I messed with her and tried some gimmicks and stuff I’ve tried in the past, but you couldn’t get her in the corner if you had fve guys. If she wasn’t amped up, she was OK. If you were practicing, you could probably run one or two steers and she’d feel like the head horse that I’ve always had. If you ran three or four, it would get ugly.”
Beers took her to several vets and couldn’t get a diagnosis that made sense. Once, while in Arizona, a vet detected she was in heat, so Beers took her to be around the studs at Sherry Cervi’s. Normally, a mare in es-