A growing number of equestrians are taking up arms, as shooting on horseback continues to attract new competitors to its ranks.
Lured by the challenge and the camaraderie, memberships are swelling in the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association — especially in California and the birthplace of CMSA, Arizona, where the Arizona Mounted Shooters Association had three January events to start the year.
With names like Roy Rogers Rangers and the Tombstone Ghost Riders, how can anyone resist a peek at this fast-action sport that requires horsemanship — and a special horse.
With two big scores in four tough events, Clayton Edsall of Oakdale earned the title of World’s Greatest Horseman during the National Reined Cow Horse Association Celebration of Champions event held Feb. 12-20 at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center.
Riding his own gelding, Skeets Oak Peppy, Edsall scored a 221 to lead the herd work to set his winning pace.
“We were fortunate to up earlier (in the draw), and there were still some cattle we had picked out,” he said. “Some of them got cut. Doug (Williamson), right before me, cut pretty much my whole list, so we went with some backups. Kelby (Phillips) had a good cow picked out, and it all worked out.”
The NRCHA’s World’s Greatest Horseman competition requires the same horse-and-rider combo to compete in four events: herd work, reined work, steer stopping, and fence work.
As an Olympic year revved up interest in Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 as a U.S. Gold Medal candidate in the Olympic Games, another force was revving up in California with a lower profile: Western Dressage.
Western trainers have long been using dressage techniques to enhance communication with their horses, but since 2010, the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) has provided a structure that has spawned growth. And, since the California Western Dressage Association (CAWDA) started in 2012, interest and participation has grown widely in the Golden State.
“Western Dressage kind of mirrors the training levels that a horse would go through in the traditional English dressage, but it really takes those principles as they apply to the western horse,” said Sandra Ogden, current CAWDA Vice President.
Ogden has been with the organization since its inception, and growth continued into the New Year.
It had been five years since the last go of the National Stock Horse Association’s Classic in 2011, a popular aged event that returned April 22-24 to rave reviews at the Mid-State Fairgrounds.
Longtime NSHA supporters Mark and Shari Luis spearheaded the resurrection of the three-day show that was headlined by a pair of aged events — a Derby sponsored by Cactus Saddlery and a Bridle Challenge sponsored by DT Horses and Hickory Holly Time. Many other sponsors came on board to make the show’s comeback a big success.
“The response was tremendous,” said Shari, who along with Mark joined the NSHA Board this year with founding partners Russell and Tanna Dilday and Jake Gorrell. “What made this show a success, in addition to the team that does such a good job making the NSHA run, were the sponsorships. The sponsors were amazing and overwhelmed us with their generousity.”
In the Bridle Challenge, Lyn Anderson rode David and Barbara Archer’s Tuckers Smart Cat (WR This Cats Smart x Smoke Time Tuck) to the Open title with a 298.5, edging Randy Paul on Linda katz’s LenaLilToTheWright (Lenas Wright On x Shining Survivor).
With a name like the “Bunny Slide”, there’s a tendency to take this springtime reining event as something cute and cuddly. But any reiner who has competed in this growing California Reining Horse Association event knows it’s no Easter egg hunt.
The four-day CRHA Bunny Slide, held April 1-3 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, featured more than 500 go’s this year, as competitors filled two arenas all day Saturday and Sunday. Show officials reported more than $24,000 in pay-outs.
The reined cow horse world lost one of its greatest champions May 22 when Topsails Rien Maker, the only three-time winner of the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s “World’s Greatest Horseman” competition, died of kidney failure at the Oklahoma ranch of his longtime trainer and co-owner, Russell Dilday.
The 17-year-old stallion was a popular favorite in the reined cow horse community, and the pairing with the gutsy, colorful Dilday made for a memorable record-setting run of aged events over the last decade.
His wins are NRCHA Hall of Fame material — the three World’s Greatest titles, two National Stock Horse Association World’s Richest Stock Horse crowns, NRCHA National Championships — and other accomplishments that speak of an ability to close the biggest of deals. Not to just compete at the highest level, but to finish on top.
Springtime in Southern California wine country is hard to beat for a horse show venue, and the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association struck up a winner the weekend of May 19-22 when it hosted the inaugural Jimmy Flores, Sr. Derby at Casner’s Ranch.
The four-day event included the club’s popular Non Pro Triple Crown and a full slate of NRCHA and AQHA classes on Sunday, making for a big draw and a huge success. Numbers pleased SCRCHA President Christy McSweeny, especially in the Derby Open (21 entries), the Triple Crown (37) and the final day’s horse show (110).
“We had a really good show,” said McSweeny, who found the open slot in the show schedule when the Arizona Reined Cow Horse Association moved its Sherri Gilkerson Memorial event to Arizona. “Everybody was happy.
The new Derby commemorates Jimmy Flores, Sr., who passed away the previous September after a life dedicated to horses in general and the reined cow horse sport in particular. Big winners included Nicolas Barthelemy in the $7,000-added Open Derby on All That Boon, owned by Sheri Jamieson.
After getting close the last few years to the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s wealthiest bridle contest, Jake Gorrell and his longtime partner, Smooth N Cash, just plain took it.
The Hanford-based Gorrell and Roloff Ranch’s gritty 2005 gelding topped the field of 14 elite equines to win the CD Survivor Memorial Bridle Spectacular. Held in conjuction with the NRCHA Derby June 13-19 at the Mid-state Fairgrounds, the CD Survivor Memorial is a $50,000-added contest named in honor of the late, great stallion owned by NRCHA sponsor Holy Cow Performance Horses.
At the halfway point in the California Reining Horse Association’s 2016 season, the region’s best reiners hit their summer strides at the Reiner Shine show held June 10-12 at the L.A. Equestrian Center.
The full slate of National Reining Horse Association Affiliate Shows 3 and 4 classes, as well as classes offering PCHA, AQHA and APHA points, assured a good turnout. Plus, there was more than $11,500 in added money and some great awards.
Non Pro rider Robyn Schiller won Circuit titles on different horses, claiming the Novice Horse Non Pro crown, the Intermediate Non Pro and the Non Pro all on CD Star Commander, while taking the Novice Horse Reserve Championship on Plenty Of Guns. Another winner of multiple Circuit titles in the Non Pro division was Martha Goss and Faceofaconquistador in the Limited Non Pro and Non Pro Prime Time.
In the Open, Tom Foran captured both the Championship and Reserve, riding Sleipner LLC’s Blue Collar Tag to first and Heather Smith Porter’s Lil Joe Tag to second.
Since 2012, when Cowboy Dressage held steady its own course while another growing discipline, Western Dressage, took a slightly alternate route to align with the USEF, membership has swelled to 5,000. This year, Eitan Beth-Halachmy’s Cowboy Dressage movement continued to grow, as equestrians embraced the gentle, patient philosophy of willing partners.
The 2016 Reining By The Bay Show ran from July 18-24 at the Horse Park at Woodside, and the high-powered week attracted the finest horses and riders. In the $16,000-added 3-year-old Open Futurity, Tracer Gilson won the Level 4 with Da Big Kahuna (Wimpys Little Step x Princessontheprowl by High Brow Cat), a horse bred and owned by Joe and Karen Moran of Laguna Hills. It marked Gilson’s first RBB Level 4 Open Futurity win.
“We raised Da Big Kahuna here at the ranch, so it’s a particularly proud moment.” He said.
Kelby Phillips liked what he first saw in Duallys Lucky Charm as a two-year old last winter at his friend’s ranch in Texas, and now others are liking the colt, too.
Phillips, who’s been Dean Tuftin’s trainer at DT Ranch in Bend, Ore., about 18 months now, rode him to the National Stock Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Championship Aug. 21 with a solid showing that earned $16,438 for owner Mike Stewart of Munday, Texas.
In its final go at the Reno Livestock Events Center, the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s Snaffle Bit Futurity played out Sept. 19-Oct. 1, and while tradition was on center stage throughout the event, so was its future.
Top riders and horses in all divisions sparked intense competition that made goosebumps and fed anticipation for next year’s Futurity at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I heard from several people, it’s one of the best finals they’ve ever seen,” said NRCHA 2 Million Dollar Rider and Open finalist Todd Bergen of Eagle Point, Ore.
The Oct. 1 Open Finals had 25 horses who 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. 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 seemed routine to Allyson Tapie, who had just completed her reining and boxing runs at the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association Shootout in the final go of the day. Then, as she and her Little Yellow Vett started their trot out of the arena, the show manager called her to the judges stand for a bit check.
“I was confused because bit checks are not normally done before you leave the arena,” she said.
Aaron Brookshire came over to assist her, unbridling the horse and showing the bit to the judge. Then, surrounded by friends and family, Aaron went to one knee and proposed.
“It was all I could do to not interrupt him, and then I said, `of course!’ and quickly ‘yes!’,” she says. “After I left the arena, I found out that everyone knew what was going to happen except for me.”
Clearly, the Brookshire-Tapie proposal was the highlight of the day, but Aaron also scored big in the show pen, winning the SCRCHA Shootout Open on his Very Smart Cowhorse. Allyson, competing in the Non Pro Limited Division, finished reserve in the to Tim Alward on his Tommy Olena.
Not even badly needed rain showers could dampen spirits at the California Reining Horse Association’s 2016 Challenge Show, held Oct. 26-30 at the L.A. Equestrian Center. Open rider Nicolas Barthelemy, on Manny Rojo’s WRS Shiney Diamond, swept all divisions L1, L2, L3 and L4, marking a 150 for their big win. In the Non-Pro Futurity, Marilyn Scheffers and Gunna Juice You took top honors in the L2, L3, L4 and CRHA Amateur divisions. The prestigious CRHA Reiner of the Year competition went to Robyn Schiller riding Plenty of Guns.