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Golden horse

Special mount makes steer wrestling easy, has won countless buckles

by Ruth Nicolaus
for the Adams County Ag Society

THEDFORD, Neb. — There’s a pretty special horse in Dane Pokorny’s barn.

Shorty, a red roan gelding, is the Thedford High School cowboy’s steer wrestling mount.

Shorty isn’t just any horse. On his back, two Nebraska High School Rodeo Association steer wrestling titles have been won, and countless buckles and saddles.



The Pokornys got the horse eight years ago from the Kasselder family near Ericson. Shorty was raised by Dean Pelster, who considered using him for ranch work but thought his personality was better suited to steer wrestling. Shorty had also been used for a bit of heeling in the team roping.

Jake Kasselder had ridden Shorty for college rodeo. Dane’s older brother Cauy rode Shorty in high school rodeo, and so did several other steer wrestlers, including Lane Day, who won the state title in 2011 and Zane Patrick who was co-champion in 2017.



Right now, Dane is ranked second in the state high school standings and he hopes to bring home a state title from Hastings in June. “I’m planning on winning on him this year,” he said. He wishes someone had written down how many first-place buckles Shorty has won for his riders.

Shorty makes steer wrestling easy for his riders, Dane said.

“He’ll put you in the same spot (during the run) every time. Having one that does that, makes it easy to practice on him and get your technique down. He’s never failed me, not once.”

Dane’s dad Brad called Shorty “honest.” Steer wrestlers often share horses, and the Pokornys make Shorty available to anyone who needs him at high school rodeos. “Anybody can get on him,” Brad said. “We had a kid last week that didn’t get along with his horse, and we put him on Shorty. He gives you the same shot every time.”

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER

Shorty is old, as far as horses go, although the Porkornys don’t know his age and have no registration papers for him. They estimate he’s in his upper 20s.

But he doesn’t act his age. If Dane hasn’t practiced for awhile, Shorty feels his oats when they try to catch him. “He trots around, he bucks, he does this skip-di-do,” Brad said.

He can be hard to catch, Dane said. “When you go to catch him to ride him, he acts like he’s 4. Sometimes a switch will turn on and you’ll have trouble catching him. Other times, you can walk right up to him.

“Shorty doesn’t act up, he just knows that he’s smarter than most. He’s old and wise.”

The horse has one more year of competition, Brad says, then he’s earned his retirement. Dane is a junior in high school and will ride Shorty for the 2021-2022 school year, and then Shorty will retire to green pastures.

The horse gets special treatment at the Pokorny ranch. They know his worth.

“He’s golden,” Brad said. “He’s a golden old horse.”

Dane, along with 120 other Nebraska high school rodeo athletes, will compete at the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo in Hastings at the Adams County Fairgrounds June 17-19. Performances start at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on June 17, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on June 18, with the finals at 1 p.m. on June 19. Tickets are $7 for everyone ages 6 and older. For more information, visit AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com or hsrodeo-nebraska.com, or call 402-462-3247.


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