Dona Kay Rule
Kirt Steinke

By Ann Bleiker

NFR 2019 AQHA/WPRA Horse of the Year


After winning the Caldwell (Idaho) Night Rodeo in August, Dona Kay Rule said it had been a blessed season and the blessings continue for the NFR bound cowgirl. Rule of Minco, Oklahoma, recently learned that her 10-year old sorrel gelding High Valor had been voted on by her peers as the 2019 Purina Horse of the Year presented by the American Quarter Horse Association.

Valor, out of Rare High by Valiant Hero, really came into his own this season carrying his jockey to new heights and her first Wrangler NFR qualification. Rule has had the sorrel for six years and has taken him through the building blocks of what she hoped would have him ready for these opportunities.

“He wasn’t a barrel horse when I got him,” Rule said during an interview last year. “He was just a broke gelding. We bought him from Lana Merrick from Canadian River Quarter Horses. She was having trouble trying to juggle work obligations and having a horse like that and didn’t feel like she was doing him justice, so she sold him to me, and I promised her I would never sell him unless he went back to her.”

Rule a very accomplished trainer has sold a fair share of quality horses. That’s her business, so keeping Valor as a horse for her to be competitive on has been the focus.

“I knew he was really, really powerful, and I brought him along slow,” she said. “I was forced to get on him after my other horse (A Juicy Adventure) got a career-ending injury, so Valor just had to step up. When he realized what I was asking him to do … man, he went to work.

The owner of the PRCA/AQHA/WPRA "Horses of the Year" in each category will be awarded $5,000 and an AQHA bronze trophy during the PRCA Awards Banquet in Las Vegas at the South Point Hotel & Casino on Dec. 4. Second place will receive $3,000 and third place will receive $2,000.

Finishing second in the WPRA voting was KN Fab Gift of Fame “JLo” ridden by Ivy Conrado-Saebens and owned by Kenny Nichols and James Barron. Two horses finished in a tie for third so they will split the $2,000 and those great horses were Freckles Ta Fame “Can Man” ridden by Shali Lord and owned by Joe and Carla Spitz and An Oakie With Cash “Louie” ridden by Lisa Lockhart and owned by Lisa and husband Grady.