Bran­don Beers’ Head Horse of the Year, Jewel, misses a year of ac­tion due to an ovar­ian tu­mor.

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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-


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