Snaffle Bit Futurity

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snaffle bit futurityDuals Lucky Charm and Kelby Phillips Win Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Championship. Saturday, October 1, was the long- awaited National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Finals day.

Twenty-five riders who spent the last two weeks striving to become finalists began with a clean slate and a fresh chance to win the $100,000 paycheck.

It was an unforgettable night of fence work, with 10 of the 25 finalists marking a 219 score or above. 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. "It's great. I don't really know what to say," Phillips said, admitting the full impact of his achievement with Duals Lucky Charm hadn't quite sunk in. "This horse, he's solid every day. He doesn't ever do anything bad. He's been really fun to train."

Phillips, the resident trainer at NRCHA Corporate Partner DT Horses, Bend, Oregon, felt confident on the gelding he started riding last November. "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. 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.

Open Bridle Champion

In an exciting addition to the Snaffle Bit Futurity Non Pro Finals schedule, the Open Bridle finals were held between the Futurity rein and 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.

With just a point separating the Champion from the Reserve Champion, ARC Sparkin Chics (Chic Please x Sailing Spark x Shining Spark), shown b 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.

NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity CINCH Intermediate Open and Limited Open Champions Crowned in Reno, Nevada

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. "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.

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. "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.

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.

Level 1 Limited Open Champion

The Level 1 Limited Open Champion was determined by the scores in the preliminary gorounds, 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.

Ladies Champion

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) enter the arena for those finals, they will already be 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.

NRCHA Hackamore Classic Open Champions Crowned in Reno

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. 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.

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.

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.

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