2023 Breakaway Roping Horse of the Year No Wimpy Turns

2023 Breakaway Roping Horse of the Year No Wimpy Turns

Shelby Boisjoli wins record breakaway roping riches riding “Onna,” her horse of the year.

Shelby Boisjoli and No Wimpy Turns in breakaway roping.

text size

The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

By Kendra Santos for The American Quarter Horse Journal 

Canadian-born Texas cowgirl Shelby Boisjoli set the new $164,549 regular-season breakaway roping earnings record riding into the December 5-6 National Finals Breakaway Roping at the South Point in Las Vegas. How much did No Wimpy Turns, her 2023 Nutrena Breakaway Roping Horse of the Year, Presented by AQHA, have to do with that? 

“Everything,” Shelby says of the gritty 8-year-old sorrel mare known as “Onna.” “When they called and told me she won this award again, I got pretty choked up. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that the girls who rope for a living thought Onna deserved this title, especially for a second time.”

The top 25 breakaway ropers cast their votes, and Onna got Shelby the coveted call in both 2021 and 2023. These two fierce females first connected when Onna was 4, and Shelby posted on Facebook that she was in search of prospects between the ages of 4 and 8. 

“I put the age and price range on there, and a lady from Canada messaged me and told me about Onna,” says Shelby, who grew up in Canada and now calls Stephenville, Texas, home with Haven Meged, her 2019 world champion tie-down roper husband. “She got me in touch with Austin Seelhof in Cochrane, Alberta. Onna’s Canadian, like me.”

Onna is a 2015 sorrel mare by Whiz N Starlight and out of Its Wimpys Turn by Wimpys Little Step. The mare was bred by Outrider Ranch Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta.

Funny thing is that Haven bought Casanovas Cowgirl, his black queen bee that he calls “Beyonce,” off of Facebook. And that Shelby’s forever No. 1 “Root Beer” (registered as Sexy Lil Blue Blood), who came before Onna, is also a mare. 

“It’s a coincidence that they’re all mares,” Shelby says. “We didn’t go looking for mares. But they found us.”

When Onna and Shelby met, it had just recently been determined that reining was not Onna’s calling. She’d been started on barrels, too. Nope. That wasn’t her event either. 

“She had too big a motor and was a little too hot for reining,” Shelby says. “Onna wants to lope around really fast. She likes to do everything fast. But she was super broke, and she was beautiful. She had the reining slide, and could really turn around. I was visiting her in her stall after I tried her and was petting on her. She was just the sweetest mare in the world, and I knew I was not leaving without her.”

There was a slight hitch when they first joined forces. Onna had never had a rope swung on her, and she was not a fan. 

“It was a very long process getting her rope broke,” Shelby says. “She would jump around and throw her head in the air. I about wore my shoulder completely out swinging a rope on her. And getting her used to the roping chute was an even bigger fight. I’d tie her up at the end of the arena while we roped all day. Then the next day, I’d tie her up halfway up the arena while we roped all day. We finally inched our way a little closer and a little closer. 

“Onna threw fits being scared of everything and was absolutely terrified of the roping chute,” Shelby says. “But once we got over her fear of ropes and roping chutes, she was awesome. She had the best feel going to calves, and her stride just feels like she’s timed up with your swing.”

Back when Root Beer was Shelby’s best girl, in 2020, she threw a hind shoe and got a little sore. That’s when Onna got the unexpected call to step up to first stringer. 

“Root Beer needed a break, and it basically forced me to ride Onna,” Shelby says. “She’d been ready to go, but Root Beer had always been my go-to.”

Boy, did this girl deliver. Shelby rode Onna at all but three rodeos in 2023: the Pendleton (Oregon) Round-Up on the grass, and a couple of Montana circuit rodeos. 

“Onna’s super easy now, and I count on her all the time,” Shelby says. “Not very many people have ridden Onna. I could probably count on one hand how many people have been on her back. But she loves her job, and she’s amazing at it.”

Her one quirk is being super cinchy.

“I have to barely do my cinch up, then walk Onna around,” Shelby says. “Then I do it up a little more. Then I get on her and warm her up. Then I do it up a little more. If you just pull the cinch and step on, she’ll lay down.

“But Onna has the biggest heart in the world. When it comes down to it, she wants to do good and she wants to win. And that’s something you can’t teach a horse. It’s something they have to have in them, and Onna’s got it.”

Kelsie Domer’s Kits Tiana Play, “Little Man,” is the reserve breakaway horse of the year in 2023. Taylor and Joey Williams’ Baybe Bullet, “Baybe,” finished third in the voting.