Brooke Howell and All-Around Prospect Win 2023 Badlands Circuit Year-End Championship in the Breakaway

The buckskin mare "Dixie" stunned trainer Brooke Howell with a collection of performances that secured their Badlands Circuit Year-End Championship.

Brooke Howell stands in front of buckskin mare Dixie
Brooke Howell didn't expect "Dixie" to step up in such a big way—allowing her to win the Badlands Circuit Year-End Championship. Photo courtesy of Howell

At the 2023 Badlands Circuit Finals in Minot, North Dakota, Oct. 13-15, Brooke Howell and outside mare “Dixie” sealed their year-end championship.

Howell topped the year-end with a total of $13,671, outpacing No. 2 Tanegai Zilverberg by $758. The win means Howell is qualified for the 2024 NFR Open in Colorado Springs in July—a valuable opportunity to round up some mid-summer money.

Mounted on an outside horse she’s been roping on since February, horse trainer Howell was stunned she was able to wrap up the year-end. 

“It baffles me that I was able to do this,” Howell said. “This mare has such a great mind; she wants you to win.”

Dixie is an 8-year-old mare owned by Lisa and Gus Garnhart. She was brought to Howell with the hope of seasoning her in events ranging from breakaway to barrels and heading.

“When I got her, she was kind of flighty,” Howell said. “She needed a job. So, I got her a little more broke outside and went to roping on her. She took right to it and she’s super cowy. Once I started putting her to work, her entire attitude changed.”

Howell had started the summer rodeoing on sister Shayla Hall’s mare, “Queen,” but when she got sore, Howell had a pile of entries over the Fourth of July and no horse to compete with. That’s when Dixie got the call.

“Dixie had been through the barrier two times and had jumped it both times,” Howell recalled. “Mandan was her third rodeo and I managed to get in the box before the perf. Shayla held the barrier up for me and we went through it. From there, Dixie gave me a chance everywhere she went.”

Howell and Dixie pulled a collection of checks over the Fourth run, including a $1,770 payday at the Mandan Rodeo Days in North Dakota, proving how valuable that extra box work was.

Dixie was a mainstay for the remainder of the season, and the pair topped it off  at the Badlands Circuit Finals with an aggregate of 9.4 seconds on three head, winning a total of $3,063.

“Willingness is the No. 1 trait in these rodeo horses. They have to be willing to help you and be in your corner. We’re humans, we make errors.”

– Brooke Howell

Howell roped her first two calves in 3.3 and 3.1 seconds before realizing her new stirrup leathers had stretched during routine ranch work and were too long for breakaway.

“I had been fighting leaving the corner,” Howell said. “I shortened the stirrups up and, in Round 3, I drew the toughest calf in the pen. I knew I could catch him, though, and I needed to because it was between Tanegai and I for the year-end. It worked out for me, and I roped him in 3.0.”

Now, Howell is going to turn Dixie toward the barrels for the Garnharts.

“I think the more events you have a horse doing, the better,” Howell said. “Because this mare is a soldier in the box, whether you’re heading or heeling on her. And she’s going to go to some kids in Junior High. I really have a love and respect for training young horses and bringing something up.”

Howell’s unsure of her mount for the NFR Open, but is confident the right horse will come along..

Badlands Circuit Year-End Results

1Brooke HowellBelle Fourche, SD$13,671.23
2Tanegai ZilverbergHolabird, SD$12,913.73
3Danielle WrayOrd, NE$12,315.91
4Sawyer GilbertBuffalo, SD$11,963.08
5Rickie FanningSpearfish, SD$11,839.51
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