Futurity Open Champion
Duals Lucky Charm, shown by Kelby Phillips and owned by Mike and Robyne Stewart
Saturday, October 1, was decision time for 25 horses in the 2016 Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Finals at the Reno Livestock Events Center in Reno, Nevada. They had risen to the top of the field of nearly 200 preliminary entries for a shot at the coveted $100,000 Championship and the title which represents a life-altering, pinnacle moment for owners, trainers, and breeders alike. The young equine triathletes were piloted by capable horsemen and -women with a wide range of experience, from National Reined Cow Horse Association Hall of Fame Horseman Ken Wold, pushing 70 years old; to newlyweds Chris and Sarah Dawson, each with two horses in the finals; to first-time Open Finalist Tyson Benson, who celebrated his 24th birthday just days before the Futurity preliminaries began September 19 in Reno, Nevada.
When the second-to-last horse in the draw, Duals Lucky Charm, scored a 224.5 down the fence to lock up the Championship for owners Mike and Robyne Stewart, the gelding’s trainer, Kelby Phillips, punched the air three times. It was an uncharacteristic celebration for the soft-spoken 28-year-old horseman, but he couldn’t help it. He knew everything had just changed.
“It’s great. I really don’t know what to say,” Phillips said in his post-win interview, visibly emotional as he rubbed a hand across his forehead.
“We usually don’t have this kind of luck!” said Robyne Stewart. “I had tears in my eyes when they called out the score. This is something we’ve never experienced. It’s awesome.”
It was an unforgettable night of fence work, with 10 of the 25 finalists marking a 219 score or above.
“As many years as I’ve been doing this, I can’t remember a finals where so many people got showed in the reining, and so many people got showed down the fence,” said NRCHA 2 Million Dollar Rider and Open finalist Todd Bergen, Eagle Point, Oregon. “I heard from several people, it’s one of the best finals they’ve ever seen, and I think that just shows where this sport is going, how good it’s gotten, how good the horses are, how good the trainers are.”
For most of the fence work finals, it appeared that two-time Futurity Champion and Million Dollar Rider Corey Cushing, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Moonstruck One Time (One Time Pepto x Moonstruck Cat x High Brow Cat), owned by Allan Kaplan, were on track to win it all. They were fourth in the working order, and made a big 221.5 run to move into the lead with a 660.5 composite.
Cushing and Moonstruck One Time maintained that lead until the 24th horse went down the fence – Duals Lucky Charm (Dual Smart Rey x TRR Miss Pepcid Olena x Pepcid), a gelding shown by NRCHA Top 10 Professional Kelby Phillips of Bend, Oregon, and owned by Mark and Robyne Stewart. Phillips, who arrived in Reno with just over $276,000 in lifetime earnings, had been in the Futurity Open finals before, but never won the big prize. That all changed in the span of one fast fence work – when the score of 224.5 became a life changing moment for the young horseman. His composite 663 score (218 herd/220.5 rein/224.5 cow) claimed the Snaffle Bit Futurity Championship.
In his post-win interview, Phillips admitted the full impact of his achievement with Duals Lucky Charm hadn’t quite sunk in. The resident trainer at NRCHA Corporate Partner DT Horses, Bend, Oregon, felt confident on the gelding he started riding last November.
“This horse, he’s solid every day. He doesn’t ever do anything bad. He’s been really fun to train. He’s really good in the cutting. I didn’t get good cows cut for him here, especially in the prelims,” Phillips said. “In the reining, he does about the same thing every time. Every time I’ve shown him, he’s been a 220, so I can rely on him in the reining to be pretty solid there.”
Phillips knew he had to bring a big fence work score if he was to overtake Cushing for the Championship.
“I knew it was going to be plenty of cow when it came out. Brandon Buttars, he had been telling me, ‘Don’t weaken,’ so I was trying not to. Once I knocked him around down there, I knew I had to go, because to be a big enough score to win, I knew we had to go with a little bit of cow. After the first turn, I knew he was good, because he’s always good after the first turn, if I can get him out of there. And then he circles really good. I know I can turn him loose and he’ll just hunt that cow on both sides. I can trust him there,” Phillips said.
Besides the $100,000 paycheck, the Futurity Championship came with a Scottsdale Saddlery Custom Saddle sponsored by Matthews Cutting Horses, an original CR Morrison bronze trophy sponsored by Beverly Vaughn/Triangle Bar V Ranch, a Gist buckle sponsored by McSpyder Ranch, boots from Rios of Mercedes, a 100x and 30x JW Brooks Custom Hat, a $500 CR RanchWear gift certificate, a cooler from Classic Equine, a jacket from NRCHA, and product from Platinum Performance.
Phillips thanked his owners, the Stewarts, as well as his wife, Abbie; close friends Brandon and Sophia Buttars; Don and Nelle Murphy, and his herd help: Mark Luis, Phillip Ralls, Brandon Buttars, and Zane Davis.
“It’s nice to know you have so many friends around here,” Phillips said.
Futurity Open Reserve Champion
When Cushing, a two-time Futurity Champion and NRCHA Million Dollar Rider, piloted Moonstruck One Time (One Time Pepto x Moonstruck Cat x High Brow Cat) to the Reserve Championship, he earned $70,000 for owner Allan Kaplan, Phoenix, Arizona.
Moonstruck One Time’s composite 660.5 score (217.5 herd/221.5 rein/221.5 cow) represented the consistently above-average performances Cushing has come to expect from the bay gelding.
“This horse has been so great ever since I started with him. I’ve got faith in him through all three events. He’s got a lot of style, a lot of finesse, and it gives me confidence, which is a huge help. I knew I could handle whatever cow was thrown at us,” Cushing said.
In another accolade for Cushing’s program, his assistant trainer, Tyson Benson, qualified for the Limited Open, Intermediate Open and Open finals riding My Gun Goes Boom (Smart Boons x Gunners Easter Lilly x Gunner), owned by Cathy Corrigan Frank. Benson and the mare earned $13,500 for their 12th place Open finish.
“How can you forget a night like this? So many great horses, so many great runs… I’m just happy with the way it turned out,” Cushing said.
CINCH Intermediate Open Champion
Dual N Tomcat, a small but mighty gelding bought on a whim at last year’s Snaffle Bit Futurity Select 2-Year-Old Sale, worked his way to the CINCH Intermediate Open Futurity Championship on Thursday, September 29, in Reno, Nevada.
Shown by Aubrey, Texas, professional Sarah Dawson, and owned by Dawson’s parents, Richard and Cheryl Winters, Dual N Tomcat (Tomcat Chex x Dual N Mary x Dual Rey), scored a 656 composite (218 herd/215.5 rein/222.5 cow) to earn the $30,000 paycheck. Since 2010, NRCHA Corporate Partner CINCH has sponsored the Intermediate Open division to guarantee that payout to the Champion.
Dawson’s prizes included a DC Cow Horse Custom Saddle presented by CINCH, a CR Morrison Trophy sponsored by Jim Lane Equine Insurance, a Gist buckle sponsored by TKO Ranch/Bob Stevens, a $500 CR Ranchwear gift certificate, a JW Brooks Custom Hat, a jacket from the NRCHA, and product from Platinum Performance.
“I thought he was great,” Dawson said, describing Dual N Tomcat’s performance in the finals. “I liked him all year. He was always so little, but he always tried so hard, and he’s been fun to train all year. It’s even more fun that my parents own him, so I’m happy for them.”
Dawson’s father, Richard Winters, also a NRCHA Professional and well known horsemanship clinician, bought Dual N Tomcat at the 2015 Snaffle Bit Futurity Select 2-Year-Old sale with minimal research beforehand.
“Clayton Edsall [a NRCHA Professional from Oakdale, California] had him in the sale, and I don’t even think my dad looked at him. I think he just saw him down in the sale pen and it was kind of a spur of the moment buy. He seems to have pretty good luck with those so far – so good on him!” Dawson said. “And I have to say, my dad, he’s just about the best owner ever. It’s very low pressure, and he’s just happy to see his horse in there. He’s been fortunate so far because I’ve had two of his horses and they’ve both been in the finals so far.”
In 2015, Dawson rode Shine Smarter (WR This Cats Smart x Shiney Tari x Shining Spark), also owned by her parents, to the CINCH Intermediate Open Reserve Championship, the Limited Open Championship, and 5th place in the Open.
Besides winning the Intermediate title on Dual N Tomcat, Dawson collected the $10,000 third place paycheck aboard Travelin Miss Jonez (Travelin Jonez x Playin With Rubies x Lectric Playboy), owned by Steve Roseberry; and finished with another $2,000 for 11th place on Wright On Hickory (Hes Wright On x Hickorys Miracle x Doc’s Hickory), owned by Wright On Hickory LLC.
The CINCH Intermediate Open Reserve Champion was Maytown Moonshine (Cats Moonshine x Bunny Lena x Smart Little Lena), shown by Powell Butte, Oregon, professional Shane Steffen for owner Carrie Whisler. They collected $15,000, a Gist buckle and monogrammed jacket from the NRCHA, a $500 CR Ranchwear gift certificate, a JW Brooks Custom Hat, a $300 gift certificate from Farnam, and product from Platinum Performance.
Limited Open Champion
Clay Volmer, Cisco, Texas, was already a well-established cutting horse trainer with approximately $150,000 in NCHA earnings when he crossed over into reined cow horse competition in 2015.
He claimed his biggest NRCHA title to date when he won the Snaffle Bit Futurity Limited Open Championship riding Hesa Royalena (Bet Hesa Cat x Black Tie Queen x Smart Little Ricochet), owned by Kirk Johnston.
Volmer guided Hesa Royalena to a 636.5 composite (214.5 herd/213.5 rein/208.5 cow), earning $10,914. HIs prizes included a DC Cow Horse Custom Saddle presented by Smart Luck, a CR Morrison Trophy from the NRCHA, a $500 gift certificate from CR Ranchwear, a Gist buckle sponsored by McSpyder Ranch, a CowTrac System sponsored by CowTrac, a JW Brooks Custom Hat, a monogrammed CINCH jacket from the NRCHA, a cooler from Classic Equine, and product from Platinum Performance.
“I was real happy with how my horse was in the herd this morning. In the rein work, I thought he circled good and really turned around well. I would’ve liked to see him stop a little harder. In the cow work, I think his first turn was probably as big as he’s ever had, and then the cow just kind of weakened on us. I could’ve done a little better, but he tried to bail us out, so I was pretty happy,” Volmer said.
Volmer got his start in the NRCHA when Jecca Ostrander, his wife, Carrie’s, aunt, sent him a horse to train last year.
“She said ‘I want this horse to be a cow horse,’ and I mainly train cutters, but I said, ‘OK.'”
With help from leading professionals including Million Dollar Rider Boyd Rice, 2 Million Dollar Rider Todd Crawford, and Chris and Sarah Dawson, Volmer made the Limited Open finals on Ostrander’s horse, Boxo Valentines Cat, during his first trip to the Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2015.
The Limited Open Reserve Champion was Night Time Cat (Nitrocat x Quixote Jesse x Holidoc), shown by Grant Lindaman II and owned by Phil Hagadorn. They scored a 635 composite (206 herd/216.5 rein/212.5 cow), earning $8,751. They won a Gist buckle sponsored by Deer Creek Ranch, a $500 CR Ranchwear gift certificate, a JW Brooks Custom Hat, $300 in Farnam products, a monogrammed jacket from the NRCHA, and product from Platinum Performance.
Level 1 Limited Open Champion
The Level 1 Limited Open Champion was determined by the scores in the preliminary go-rounds, and it was Dustin Mills, a 24-year-old assistant trainer to NRCHA 2 Million Dollar Rider Todd Crawford, who rode away with the Championship.
Mills guided Unos Smokin Chic (Uno What Time It Is x Dew It Flo x Mr Peponita Flo) to a 639 composite (215.5 herd/212.5 rein/211 fence), earning $6,484. His prize package included a CR Morrison Trophy, a Gist buckle sponsored by McSpyder Ranch, a $500 CR Ranchwear gift certificate, a JW Brooks Custom Hat, a cooler from Classic Equine, a monogrammed Cinch jacket, and product from Platinum Performance.
“In the reining, he was real good. He’s a little bit of a goofy horse so he’s kind of jumping and looking at the signs and things here. In the herd work, he was about as awesome as I could ask him to be. In the fence work, same deal. He was really good there too,” Mills said. “He’s always wide awake but really easy. He’s been kind of a dream to train, and awesome to show.”
The Limited Open Championship was Mills’ biggest NRCHA win. The 24-year-old son of cutting horse trainer Mark Mills, Brookshire, Texas, started working for Crawford almost a year and a half ago.
“It means a lot, especially in the short time I’ve been doing this,” he said.
Mills and Unos Smokin Chic also qualified for Thursday’s Limited Open finals. He said he formed a strategy with friend and fellow Limited Open Finalist Clay Volmer, who was also the Level 1 Reserve Champion riding Kirk Johnston’s Hesa Royalena (Bet Hesa Cat x Black Tie Queen x Smart Little Ricochet) to a 637.5 (213 herd/213.5 rein/211 cow)
“We just decided we were going to come in here and lope around a little bit early in the morning and then just go show. Go have fun,” Mills said.
He thanked Todd and Pam Crawford, Clay Volmer, Chris Dawson, and Matt Koch for their various roles in his success, from mentoring to herd help.
When Snaffle Bit Futurity Open and Intermediate Open Finalists Sarah Dawson and Wright On Hickory (Hes Wright On x Hickorys Miracle x Doc’s Hickory) entered the arena for those finals, they were already Snaffle Bit Futurity Champions. Their preliminary score of 656 (216 herd/223.5 rein/216.5 fence) earned the Ladies Champion title.
Wright On Hickory is owned by a unique 10-member syndicate from other segments of the equine industry who are new to the NRCHA.
“I’m extremely happy for those people, because they’re all first time cow horse owners, so its pretty special for them to come here and do well. Now they’re spoiled! They’re going to think it’s easy, when it’s not,” Dawson said, laughing.
She took home a check for $1,134, along with a pile of nice prizes: a CR Morrison Trophy sponsored by Stacy Lynch, a $500 CR Ranchwear gift certificate, a Gist buckle and Cinch jacket from the NRCHA, a JW Brooks Custom Hat, a cooler from Classic Equine, and product from Platinum Performance.
Non Pro/Intermediate Non Pro/Novice Non Pro Champion
Kathy Ferguson, of Cottonwood, California, pulled off a clean sweep of all three National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Discount Tire Non Pro, Intermediate Non Pro and Novice Non Pro Championships on Friday, September 30, at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center.
Ferguson, who arrived in Reno with just over $17,000 in prior NRCHA lifetime earnings, had plenty of experience showing bridle horses and derby horses, but virtually no prior futurity experience.
She piloted Royal Isabella (One Time Royalty x Oaks Rowdycat x High Brow Cat), to a 644.5 composite score (217 herd/ 215.5 rein/212 cow), winning the Championship by a three point margin.
“I wanted a derby horse, and the only way I could get one was to futurity it, so now I have my derby horse,” she said, smiling. “I knew she could do it. I’m amazed I was with her on the trip. I didn’t think I could do it. I knew she could, but I didn’t think I could.”
Her triple paychecks totaled $28,951. Ferguson also won a Scottsdale Saddlery Custom Saddle presented by Discount Tire, a Don Rich Custom Saddle and a Bob’s Custom Saddle presented by the NRCHA; an original CR Morrison Bronze and two CR Morrison Trophies sponsored by the NRCHA; three Gist custom buckles sponsored by Jon and Jody Semper, Stuart Ranch, and JT and Sandra Neal; three $500 CR Ranchwear Gift Certificates; three JW Brooks Custom Hats; boots from Rios of Mercedes; polar fleece coolers sponsored by Classic Equine; and product from Santa Cruz Animal Health and Platinum Performance.
Ferguson’s husband, Dave, was also a Snaffle Bit Futurity Non Pro finalist, finishing 7th on Metalic Dual (Metallic Cat x Dual Whisper x Kit Dual). Kathy said that typically, her husband shows the Futurity horses and then she takes the reins during their Derby years.
“He did really good. He’s taking it really well. I’ll disappear now. He can have this futurity horses and I’ll keep my derby horses,” she said.
Ferguson purchased Royal Isabella from Million Dollar Rider Corey Cushing, with the help of NRCHA Professional Erin Taormino. Ferguson admitted she had her heart set on a different horse, but Taormino urged her to take a second look at the blaze-faced sorrel mare.
“I’m glad I did,” Ferguson said.
The Reserve Champion in all three divisions – Non Pro, Intermediate Non Pro and Novice Non Pro – was Jenny Newman, Bly, Oregon, who collected combined paychecks totaling $22,198 when she scored a 641.5 (213 herd/214 rein/214.5 cow) aboard One Kool Moon (Cats Full Moon x One Stylish Babe x One Time Pepto).
Futurity Amateur Champion
The Snaffle Bit Futurity Amateur Champion was determined by the scores in the preliminary go-rounds, and it was Jenny Newman, a cattle rancher from the south-central Oregon town of Bly, who took home the Championship, riding One Kool Moon (Cats Full Moon x One Stylish Babe x One Time Pepto) to a composite score of 642 (215 herd/213 rein/214 cow). Newman also earned a place in Friday’s Non Pro, Intermediate Non Pro and Novice Non Pro finals.
Newman, who arrived in Reno with $2,550 in prior NRCHA earnings, began her journey with One Kool Moon at the urging of her late sister-in-law, Jennifer Rice, who passed away in 2015 following a battle with brain cancer.
“She encouraged me to find a good horse,” Newman said, through tears. Although her sister-in-law wasn’t a horsewoman, “she was my biggest supporter.”
Newman consulted NRCHA Professional Clayton Edsall, Oakdale, California, who helped her find and purchase One Kool Moon, nicknamed “Koolie” by Newman’s granddaughter. Edsall rode the gelding from last November until May, and then Newman brought him home to finish his training and use him on the ranch she operates with her husband, Kevin.
“Clayton did a wonderful, wonderful job, and without him, there would have been no chance I could do this,” Newman said.
She was pleased with One Kool Moon’s steady performance in all three events.
“He babysits me. When I screw up, he babysits me. That’s the best way to put it. Clayton told me to go out there and stay calm and let him do his job. They picked good cattle for me in the herd work, and it all fell together. In the reining, we had a little bobble. We drug a lead a little bit, but other than that, he was perfect. We drew a good cow in the cow work, and from there, it’s history, I guess,” Newman said, smiling.
Before the fence work, Edsall’s advice to Newman was brief, but inspiring.
“He said, ‘Don’t be afraid to be great.’ Those were his exact words to me. It was awesome,” she said.
Newman took home $5,400, a custom saddle courtesy of Don Rich Saddlery and presented by Ellen and Larry Bell; a CR Morrison Trophy and Gist buckle from the NRCHA, a JW Brooks Custom Hat, a $500 CR Ranchwear gift certificate, a fleece cooler from Classic Equine, product from Platinum Performance, and a monogrammed Cinch jacket.
The Futurity Amateur Reserve Champion was Sonia DiStefano, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, riding High Brow Kitty Cat (Palo Duro Cat x Hickorys Jac O Lena x Jac Pic A Nic). She scored a 637.5 composite (208 herd/212 rein/217.5 cow), earning $4,320. Her prizes included a Gist buckle and monogrammed Cinch jacket from the NRCHA; a hat from JW Brooks Custom Hats, gift certificates from Farnam and Platinum Performance; and a $500 gift certificate from CR Ranchwear. DiStefano also advances to the clean-slate finals in the Non Pro, Intermediate Non Pro and Novice Non Pro Futurity.
Futurity Non Pro Limited Champion
Scottsdale, Arizona, competitor Mindy Barkemeyer almost decided to scratch her Futurity horse, Cattyholic (Catty Hawk x Boomerita x Boomernic), out of concern they weren’t ready to compete as a team on the big stage at the Snaffle Bit Futurity. But some last-minute intervention by her husband, NRCHA Professional Brad Barkemeyer, made her change her mind.
“I told Brad I didn’t want to come, I was done, and he said, ‘Let me ride him, and give me until Wednesday.’ We were leaving on Friday. He said, ‘Come ride him Wednesday and you can make up your mind.’ I threw my saddle in the trailer, and here we are!” she said. “I’m so glad I decided to show, just from a personal standpoint of proving something to myself, that I can do this.”
Barkemeyer scored a 627.5 (213 herd/201 rein/213.5 cow) on the gelding she calls “Gummybear.”
“He is an amazing cow horse. His weakness is in the reining. I knew I had to be aggressive and be a showman. So I just put him in the right spots and hoped that it all worked out, and it did,” she said.
Cattyholic comes from a breeding program and a family of horses that Barkemeyer knows well.
“Bill and Michelle Cowan bred him, and they also bred my bridle horse [Dulce Smart Boomer, nicknamed “Clark,” also out of the mare Boomerita], and they’re our really good friends. We went out in the pasture and looked at their 2-year-olds last fall. Their little girl, Mackenzie, named all their 2-year olds and his name was Gummybear. She said ‘Mindy, I think this horse is most like Clark,’ which is my bridle horse. I said ‘Oh, I’ve got to have him!'”
Despite the inevitable ups and downs that came with showing her first Futurity horse, Barkemeyer said the reality “far exceeded” her expectations.
“God put me in a position where I had an opportunity and I needed to take it, and I’m so glad I did, and so glad it worked out the way that it did,” she said.
She thanked her husband, Brad; her herd help, Doug Williamson, Shadd Parkinson and Corey Cushing; NRCHA Hall of Fame horseman Don Murphy; her mom, who stayed home to take care of the Barkemeyers’ young sons, Bryce and Zane; and her huge cheering section of friends in Reno.
Barkemeyer’s paycheck was $2,850, and she also won a saddle courtesy of Don Rich Saddlery and presented by Linda Wood/Chandler Ranch; a CR Morrison Trophy sponsored by the Colorado Reined Cow Horse Association; a Gist buckle from the NRCHA; a JW Brooks Custom Hat; a cooler from Classic Equine; a jacket from the NRCHA; a $500 CR Ranchwear gift certificate; and product from Platinum Performance.
The Non Pro Limited Reserve Champion was Rainy Walker, Eunice, New Mexico, who rode Tex Me A Cat (Zezes Pepto cat x Texas Switch x Texas Kicker) to a 617.5, earning $2,375. Walker’s prizes were a Gist buckle and monogrammed jacket from the NRCHA, a JW Brooks Custom Hat, a CR Morrison Trophy sponsored by Stacy Lynch, and gift certificates from CR Ranchwear, Farnam and Platinum Performance.
NRCHA Hackamore Classic Open Champion
The National Reined Cow Horse Association Hackamore Classic, held for the first time in conjunction with the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno, Nevada, wrapped up September 27, with the rein and fence work for the Open divisions.
Raise A Smart Cat (WR This Cats Smart x Raise The Best x Mr Sun O Lena), shown by NRCHA Professional Nick Dowers for owner Bill Stevenson, had a rough start in the three-event competition. In the herd work on September 18, Raise A Smart Cat scored a lackluster 206 in the herd work, placing him far down in the pack of 70 competitive Open horses.
At that point, Dowers thought the compact sorrel gelding had little hope of finishing as the Champion, so he set his sights on simply getting in the money and qualifying for the Open Hackamore horse show class finals on Thursday.
“My goal was to just come back, have two really clean runs in the rein and fence work and make the horse show Hackamore finals. That was the goal. I thought if I had two good runs, I could probably squeak out a check in this [the Hackamore Classic], and make the finals,” the Nevada horseman said.
However, Raise A Smart Cat seemed to have other plans. He came roaring back from his herd work deficit with a 224 in the rein work and a 228 in the fence work – the high score of both events – to win the Hackamore Classic Open Championship.
“As soon as we started loping in for our reining pattern, I thought, ‘He’s on today.’ He can really be awesome. We’ve had some good runs this year, but today he was extra tuned-in mentally, and that led to our good reining. As soon as the cow came out in the boxing, I could tell he was crisp and sharp. That cow was kind of funny. In the boxing, it headed and stopped really easy, but once it went down the fence, I literally had to force turn it and make it do what I wanted,” Dowers said.
Raise A Smart Cat was more than happy to prove he could handle a rude bovine.
“That’s, like, his thing. He loves a cow that’ll push on him and he can push back. He likes to get in there and bang around,” Dowers said.
The Championship paid $14,094 and came with a Scottsdale Saddlery Custom Saddle, a Gist buckle, and a custom sheet from Classic Equine.
Dowers also tied for the Hackamore Classic Open Reserve Championship aboard Smooth Bellingrath (Smooth As A Cat x Very Special Peppy x Peppy San Badger), owned by his family’s Triple D Ranches. They scored a 653.5 (209 herd/222 rein/222.5 cow), earning another $9,689. Smooth Bellingrath and Raise A Smart Cat will both compete in the Open Hackamore horse show class finals on Thursday night.
The other half of the Reserve Champion tie was Smartly Starstruck (Very Smart Remedy x Katie Starlight x Grays Starlight), shown by NRCHA 2 Million Dollar Rider Todd Bergen, Eagle Point, Oregon, for owner CTC Equine Assets LLC. They also scored a 653.5 (217.5 herd/221.5 rein/214.5 cow) for a $9,689 payday.
Intermediate Open Champion
The defending 2015 NRCHA Hackamore Classic Open and Intermediate Open Champion team, Red River Rivalry and Nocona, Texas, professional Shawn Hays, made another strong showing in the 2016 event, winning the Intermediate Open Championship and placing 4th in the Open.
Red River Rivalry (Soula Jule Star x Shiners Miss Lena x Shining Spark), a 2011 stallion, earned a 653 composite score (211 herd/221 rein/221 cow), and his combined paychecks totaled more than $10,500.
“It was a really tough class. I didn’t get him shown very good out of the herd. I had a miss that cost me three points. But he came back strong in the reining and the fence work with a pair of 221’s, so we were really pleased with that,” Hays said.
Hays admits to having a special bond with “Red,” a 2011 stallion he has trained from the beginning. Red River Rivalry is owned by Hays’s wife, Tammy Hays, and her father, Walter Greeman. He arrived in Reno with more than $46,000 in prior earnings.
Hays and Red River Rivalry also qualified for the Open Hackamore horse show class finals.
The Intermediate Open Reserve Champion was CD Highlights (High Brow CD x Go Little Starlight x Grays Starlight), shown by NRCHA Professional Randy Paul for owner Linda Katz. They scored a 652.5 (217 herd/217.5 rein/218 cow), earning $2,348. They also took another $5,285 paycheck for placing 5th in the Hackamore Classic Open, and will compete in the Open Hackamore horse show class finals on Thursday.
Limited Open Champion
In the Hackamore Classic Limited Open division, Ryan Thomas, King Hill, Idaho, teamed up with the 2011 mare, Magicat (Metallic Cat x Magical Lena x Little Lenas Legend), owned by Joyce Pearson, to win the Championship with a 647 composite (213 herd/218 rein/216 cow).
They also placed 7th in the Intermediate Open and 14th in the Open, for combined paychecks totaling $4,638. Thomas also collected some great prizes, including a CowTrac system sponsored by CowTrac, a Gist buckle, a custom sheet from Classic Equine, and a $300 gift certificate from Farnam.
Thomas, who is an assistant trainer to Million Dollar Rider and Hall of Fame horsewoman Anne M. Reynolds, was pleased with Magicat’s performance throughout all three Hackamore Classic events – particularly the herd work.
“It was only a 213, but it was a tough day of herd work, and really, I haven’t got her shown like that in the herd work. We were third-to-last in the herd, and it was a confidence builder for her and me,” Thomas said.
He praised Magicat’s honest demeanor in the show pen, her reliable stop, and her ability to handle a cow down the fence.
“Every time you say whoa – she is such a stopper. I knew leaving that corner I had a good cow,” he said. “She’s just an awesome, broke horse. I have to thank Annie and Joyce for letting me ride her and show her.”
Hackamore Classic Level 1 Limited Open Champion
Danielle Lybbert, Whitesboro, Texas, claimed the Hackamore Classic Level 1 Limited Open Championship aboard Hi Hill Bud (High Brow CD x Roses To Rubies x Smart Little Lena), a gelding owned by her husband, NRCHA Professional Christian Lybbert.
They scored a 644 composite (208 herd/219.5 rein/216.5 cow), which also earned the Limited Open Reserve Championship and a check in the Intermediate Open. Lybbert’s total payday was $4,354.
Hackamore Classic Non Pro Champion
Some impressive paychecks were handed out to Non Pro riders who entered both the three-event Hackamore Classic (herd, rein and cow work) and the concurrent Hackamore horse show class (rein and cow work only).
Big Piney, Wyoming, rancher and horseman Mike Miller swept the Hackamore Classic Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro Championships, and also won the Non Pro Hackamore horse show class, when he scored a 654.5 on his homebred Firecat Flashenfever (Playboys Buck Fever x Firecat Cash x Miss N Cash). Miller and his 2011 gelding earned three paychecks totaling $9,290. They also took home a pair of Gist buckles, a Bob’s Custom Saddle, product from Santa Cruz Animal Health and Platinum Performance, and a Cinch monogrammed jacket.
Miller also claimed $3,900 for winning the Non Pro Hackamore horse show class, his second consecutive year to win that title with Firecat Flashenfever.
Miller almost missed the opportunity to compete in Reno, due to a painful unplanned dismount while working colts at home in Wyoming.
“I got bucked off and hurt myself, and then thought I was feeling all right, so I entered up. I’m a little sore, but good enough,” he said.
The decision to show up and enter late proved to be a worthy choice.
“I was real happy with my horse,” Miller said. “In the herd work, I had to go last, and gosh, he was outstanding. I cut one fresh one, one that was used just a tiny bit, and the last one, I’m sure it was used. But he actually did away better than I expected. The reining, he felt real good, he felt smooth. He felt good in the fence work too. We had one real good turn and one turn where the cow kind of set up and we went by a little, but we had two good circles. He is so easy to show. Lope a few circles and come in. I never had one like that.”
Firecat Flashenfever has been a steady performer throughout his limited-age event career. Miller and the bay gelding were the 2013 Futurity Intermediate Non Pro Champions and the Non Pro Reserve Champions. They also pulled big paychecks at the 2015 NRCHA Stallion Stakes, taking Reserve in the Intermediate and 4th place in the Non Pro.
Miller has a long history as a leading NRCHA Non Pro, although in recent years, his trips to Premier Events have been less frequent.
“I don’t go as much as I used to, but tis good to see everyone. The caliber of horses and riders has gotten so high in the last few years, I’m just tickled I could stay with them,” he said, smiling.
Novice Non Pro & Amateur Hackamore Classic Champion
When Diane Lorenzen sat in the spectator seats during the 2014 Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Finals, she watched in awe as NRCHA Professional Erin Taormino and a fierce little bay horse named Cuttin Wright Up (Hes Wright On x Isabellena x Quejanaisalena), made an impressive showing for his breeder/owners, Garth and Amanda Gardiner.
“I watched Erin show him, and I said to my friend, ‘Someday, I want to have a horse like that,'” Lorenzen recalled.
A year later, in 2015, Lorenzen bought Cuttin Wright Up from the Gardiners, and almost two years to the day after watching him show in the Futurity, Lorenzen brought a long-held dream to life when she rode “Junior” to dual Championships in the Novice Non Pro and Amateur Hackamore Classic.
She also tied for Reserve Champion in the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro, with Jennifer Neel, Millsap, Texas, and Z Martinalena (Zezes Pepto Cat x Fussy Hanky) and was Reserve in the Non Pro Hackamore horse show class. Her combined paychecks totaled $9,805!
Lorenzen rode Cuttin Wright Up to a 650 composite (213.5 herd/217.5 rein/219 cow).
“I’m blessed. I’m super happy. I have an awesome horse,” the Bend, Oregon competitor said. “He felt really good through all the events. In the fence work, I knew we just had to take care of that cow. We got a good first turn, made our second turn in the open arena, and finished it off. I’m still in shock – I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”
Lorenzen, who has a background in team penning, arrived in Reno with $1,831 in prior NRCHA earnings. She said riding a horse of “Junior’s” caliber gave her the confidence to ride to her potential.
“I knew that we could do it. Knowing that, I just said, ‘We got this.’ It’s been a long road to get here, but we’re here. We made it. It feels awesome.”
Her prizes included Gist buckles, sheets and skid boots from Classic Equine, and a cooler bag with grooming supplies and a gift certificate from San Juan Ranch/Santa Cruz Animal Health.
Hackamore Classic Non Pro Limited Champion
A 12-year-old cowboy, brand-new to showing at NRCHA Premier Events, quickly became a crowd favorite as he worked his way to the Hackamore Classic Non Pro Limited Championship.
Jasper Patrick, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, rode Doctor J Stik (Love A Little Devil x Doctor J Ellen x Doc S J Jay), a 2011 gelding owned by his father, Jason Patrick, to a 634.5 composite (211 herd/207.5 rein/216 cow), earning $1,404.
“I think it’s just really cool, and I’m glad to be here,” Jasper said.
He started riding Doctor J Stik when the gelding was three.
“I like how cowy he is,” the homeschooled youth said.
Doctor J Stik is known around the barn as “Bullwinkle, because he’s built like a moose,” according to Jasper, who rides the young gelding daily under the guidance of his dad.
Jason Patrick couldn’t be in Reno for his son’s Hackamore Classic run, which Jasper admitted made him “a little bit” nervous. But he added the past coaching by his dad, and some support in Reno from Colorado professional Blue Allen, helped him through.
Besides his nice paycheck, Jasper took home a Gist buckle sponsored by Mark Rauch and a custom sheet from Classic Equine.
Horse Show Class Champions
Winning a prestigious Snaffle Bit Futurity horse show class championship is a coveted accolade and a career highlight for Open and Non Pro riders alike. With lucrative added money and impressive prizes at stake, the caliber of competition in these horse show divisions is always high. Snaffle Bit Futurity horse show class champions took home Gist custom buckles, a cooler bag with grooming supplies and a $50 gift card from San Juan Ranch/Santa Cruz Animal Health, and product from Platinum Performance. Champions in the Open Bridle, Open Hackamore, Non Pro Hackamore, Open Two Rein, Non Pro Limited, $5,000 Non Pro Limited, Youth Bridle, and Youth Limited also won saddles courtesy of DC Cow Horse Gear, Don Rich Saddles, or Bob’s Custom Saddles. The NRCHA thanks presenting saddle sponsors Linda Wood/Chandler Ranch, Mark Rauch, and the Santa Ynez Valley Cow Horse Classic, and buckle sponsors Dick Horseman, Boyd and Halee Rice, the Sandy Collier Non Pros, Barb Crist, Harlan Feed/Ricky Nicolazzi, Ruby View Quarter Horses, and Crawford Performance Horses.
Open Bridle Champion
The Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Bridle finals, always a crowd-pleasing class, took place Friday, September 30, before the Futurity Non Pro finals fence work. Eight elite bridle horses, in a field which included four Million Dollar Riders, put on an unforgettable display of grit and finesse.
The Champion, with a composite score of 443 (221 rein/222 cow), was Hes Shinettes CD (CD Olena x Sheza Shinette x Shining Spark), shown by NRCHA Million Dollar Rider Jake Telford, for owner/breeder Holy Cow Performance Horses. The Championship paid $7,175.
With just a point separating the Champion from the Reserve Champion, ARC Sparkin Chics (Chic Please x Sailing Spark x Shining Spark), shown by NRCHA Milliion Dollar Rider and Hall of Fame horseman Doug Williamson, Bakersfield, California, Telford said he takes nothing for granted in the high caliber of competition.
“Every one of these guys, and there were 10 more that didn’t make the finals, could have won this class. The Open Bridle is just a knife fight any more. It’s really tough. I just tried to be clean. He’s such a cute little horse that he usually marks good in the rein work if I don’t screw it up. The rundowns, he was a little strong in the prelims and I just tried to keep him under control, and have a clean run. The fence work, that’s where I try to let him do his thing, and stay out of his way, and it worked out,” Telford said.
Telford, of Caldwell, Idaho, thanked Hes Shinettes CD’s owner, Nancy Crawford-Hall of Holy Cow Performance Horses, for her unwavering support.
“I can’t thank her enough. I never would have made it to this point in my career without her. She’s provided me with horses that are just amazing,” he said.
The Limited Open Bridle Champion was Travelin Cielo (Travalena x Peppys Powdered Sugar x Gallo Del Cielo), shown by Rebecca Ann Sternadel, Bakersfield, California, who rode the gelding to a 427 (210 rein/217 cow). Travelin Cielo is owned by Sheila Drewry. The win paid $1,275.
Open Hackamore Champion
In an exciting addition to the Snaffle Bit Futurity Intermediate and Limited Open Finals schedule, the Open Hackamore finals were held between the Futurity rein and fence work.
In a hard-fought class of 11 finalists, it was Stylish Rasta Man (Stylish Rey Gay x Gees A Shining Star x Shining Spark), shown by Brush Prairie, Washington, professional Trent Pedersen, who prevailed.
Pedersen guided the fancy palomino to a composite 442.5 score (219 rein/223.5 cow), riding for owner Ron Cochran of Quail Run Ranch, Bend, Oregon. The win paid $7,700.
Their composite score tied with the Reserve Champion, Smooth Bellingrath (Smooth As A Cat x Very Special Peppy x Peppy San Badger), who had a 222.5 in the rein work and 220 on the cow. However, the tie-breaking fence work score tipped the win in favor of Stylish Rasta Man.
Asked what it means to him to win in such high caliber competition, Pedersen said, “It pretty much means everything. Everybody here is phenomenal. Great horses, great horse trainers, and they’re my friends. It means a lot.”
He particularly thanked Stylish Rasta Man’s owner for his unwavering support.
“Ron has been a supporter of mine, and the first person to get me into the cow horse. He’s stuck with me for many years, and he’s just a great guy,” Pedersen said.
For the second consecutive year, the Limited Open Hackamore Champion was Hi Hill Bud (High Brow CD x Roses To Rubies x Smart Little Lena), shown by Danielle Lybbert and owned by Christian Lybbert. They scored a 436 (219.5 rein/216.5 cow), earning $1,425.
Non Pro Bridle
In a tough Non Pro Bridle class, JJ Fisher and Nu Cash Cutter (Smart Cash Cutter x Nu Cashlynn Rose x Nu Cash) laid down an untouchable 296.5 (145.5 rein/151 cow) for the win, which paid $3,684. The team also won the Run To Reno Fence Work Championship with a 216, taking home another $1,000 and a Gist buckle.
Abbie Phillips, Bend, Oregon, collected a pair of Championships in the Intermediate and Novice Non Pro Bridle, riding Bed Head Cat (Wild Haired Cat x Isabellena x Quejanaisalena) to a 295 composite (145.5 rein/149.5 cow). Phillips was also third in the Non Pro Bridle. Her three paychecks totaled $6,152.
Open Two Rein
National Reined Cow Horse Association Million Dollar Rider Zane Davis, Idaho Falls, Idaho, piloted Rubys Radar (One Time Pepto x Ruby Bagonia x Peppy San Badger) to the Open Two Rein Championship, scoring a 298.5 (148 rein/150.5 cow). The win paid $2,490 to owner C Ranches, Inc.
Non Pro Two Rein
Paul Wilinski guided Paddysstarlightchic (Self Shine x RN Starlights Chic x Smart Chic Olena) to a 294 composite (143 rein/151 cow) for the Non Pro Two Rein Championship. Wilinski, Maribel, Wisconsin, earned $1,422.
Non Pro Limited
The biggest horse show class population was in the Non Pro Limited divisions, where judges marked a total of 149 runs in the $1,000 Non Pro Limited, $5,000 Non Pro Limited, and Non Pro Limited divisions over two days of showing. In the Non Pro Limited division, Kristin Bacchetti rode Heart Of A Remedy (Heart Of A Fox x SPD Remedys Response x Smart Peppy Doc) to scores of 143.5 in the rein work and 147 in the cow work for the Championship. The Tracy, California, competitor took home a check for $1,450. Bacchetti was also the Run To Reno Boxing Champion, scoring a 150 to win an additional $1,000 and another Gist buckle.
$1,000 Non Pro Limited
Kelly Cobb, Reno, Nevada, won the $1,000 Non Pro Limited Championship aboard her mare, Lizzy Go Lightly (Peptoboonsmal x Turn Liz Loose x Doc’s Hickory). They scored a 291.5 composite (144 rein/147.5 cow), earning $915.
$5,000 NON PRO LIMITED
Adrianna Adams of Oakdale, California, claimed the $5,000 Non Pro Limited Championship riding Wanna Winna Prize (Smokums Prize x Ill Be A Winning Gal x Ill Be Smart), owned by her mother, Andrea Adams. The pair scored a 290.5 (144 rein/146.5 cow), earning $1,115.
Adrianna Adams collected two major championships in one weekend when she also won the Youth Limited title with Wynsome Chex (Chex Out This Remedy x Miel Classic Tejon x Mr San Olen) to scores of 145.5 in the rein work and 147 on the cow. She won just over $900.
Garett Lund of LaCygne, Kansas, and his gelding, Ginas Pepto (One Time Pepto x Ginas Badger x Peppy San Badger), earned a 144.5 in the rein work and 149 on the cow to claim the Youth Bridle Championship. Garett, the son of NRCHA Professional Brad Lund, took home a check for just over $1,400.
AQHA Zoetis Ranching Heritage Challenge
The National Reined Cow Horse Association teamed up with its alliance partner, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), to produce the third Zoetis Ranching Heritage Challenge at the 2016 Snaffle Bit Futurity. The event, which offered Working Ranch Horse, Boxing and Ranch Horse Pleasure classes, was held Saturday, September 24 in the Reno Livestock Events Center outdoor rodeo arena.
The Ranching Heritage Challenge classes offer an impressive $15,000 added, with multiple Open and Non Pro divisions.
To be eligible for the Ranching Heritage Challenge, a horse must have been foaled at an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder’s ranch and nominated by that ranch. The AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge highlights the versatility, soundness and willing attitude of American Quarter Horses that are ranch born and raised.
The Ranching Heritage Challenge is linked to the AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders program, established to recognize AQHA’s ranching members who have steadfastly continued to maintain the ranching tradition by raising American Quarter Horses for use in working cattle.
The 4-Year-Old Open Working Ranch Horse Champion was This Cats Sinful (WR This Cats Smart x Sinful Playgirl x Freckles Playboy), a mare owned and shown by NRCHA Professional Matt Koch, Douglas, Wyoming. This Cats Sinful was bred by Cowan Select Horses LLC. She scored a 154 composite (75 rein/79 cow), earning $1,860 and prizes from Professional’s Choice. The Reserve Champion was One Time Special (One Time Pepto x Very Special Peppy x Peppy San Badger), shown by NRCHA Professional Nick Dowers, Dyer, Nevada, owned by Clinton Marshall, and bred by H. B. Bartlett DVM. The gelding scored a 151.5 (76 rein/75.5 cow), earning $1,240.
Ranching Heritage 5/6 Year Old Open
Mr Stylish Cat (Mr Playinstylish x Lil Sally Cat x High Brow Cat), shown by NRCHA Professional Tucker Robinson, Lompoc, California, for breeder/owners Kit and Charlie Moncrief, earned $1,770 for winning the class with a 152 (76 rein/76 cow).
Ranching Heritage Amateur
The Amateur Champion was Myles Brown, who scored a 141.5 (72 rein/69.5 cow) aboard Royal Rock Hancock RAB (PG Shogun x Driftn Gray Eddie x Hesa Eddie Hancock), bred and owned by Rob A. Brown. They took home $1,440 for the win, and earned another $1,100 for also winning the 5/6 year old Limited Open division.