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Craig Cameron makes music in Road to the Horse win

Scruffy Palomino 'Troubadour' heads to California

Special to the Horsetrader - April 1st, 2010 - Show & Event News
Craig Cameron's third Road to the Horse competition was the charm, winning in 2010.

Sara Bewley photo /
Road to the Horse

Craig Cameron's third Road to the Horse competition was the charm, winning in 2010.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The third time to the Road to the Horse was the charm for Craig Cameron, a Texas cowboy who chose a shaggy Palomino from 10 untouched 3-year olds and went on win the 2010 Road to the Horse Championship of Colt Starting on March 7.

“I always say, ‘Ride like a champion,’” said Cameron, who outdueled Ken McNabb and defending champion Richard Winters of Ojai. “Well, today I can finally say it and be it.”
The geldings came off the Wood Ranch in Heber Springs, Ark., and Cameron’s winning colt, registered to the AQHA as WR Shining Alamo, was one horse Craig thought nobody else would pick.

Friendly at the onset, the colt ended up challenging Cameron. But But by the end of Saturday’s 90-minute training session, Cameron had haltered the colt and taught him to yield his hindquarters.

On Sunday, Cameron laid out a couple of PVC pipes and a blue tarp for the colt, who never flinched and traveled right over the obstacles as Craig had him work the perimeter of the round pen. The crowd was really wowed when the trainer left the round pen for a mandatory break, and the colt went back to the obstacles and walked over them of his own accord — several times!

Then, in what may have been “the deal-breaker”, Cameron took the horse he nicknamed “Troubadour” (after his favorite George Strait song) through a full-arena obstacle course that each clinician and their respective colt had to negotiate in a 35-minute time limit.

After the event, the colt is heading to his new home in California after being purchased by Donna Standard of Squaw Valley.

Defending Road to the Horse Champion Richard Winters of Ojai shares a moment with his daughter, Sarah.

Sara Bewley photo /
Road to the Horse

Defending Road to the Horse Champion Richard Winters of Ojai shares a moment with his daughter, Sarah.

“He was the little ragamuffin of the remuda, but he was low-headed, curious and brave,” said Cameron. “I was lucky to have him. I didn’t think the first day he was such a good choice in the first half hour, but in the end, he made me use all of my skills and gave me a lot.”
McNabb and Winters each bought their respective colts.

WR Shining Alamo received the first-ever Traveler Award, which was given by AQHA to the horse who won the 2010 Road to the Horse. For his efforts, Cameron toted home a new saddle, trophy belt buckle and a check for $10,000.

“Every time I’ve competed at Road to the Horse, I’ve left a piece of my heart in the arena,” Cameron said. “Now I’m getting a little bit of that back. I truly believe winning Road to the Horse is going to change my life. I am 61 years old and now I am a world champion and no-one can ever take that away from me. This may be the best day of my life.”

Road to the Horse producer Tootie Bland said that Cameron’s win carried special meaning for her.
“Craig and my late husband Steven were very close and it would just mean the world to him to see Craig win this,” she said, tearfully.

The colts gave nothing for free and all three clinicians experienced road blocks along the way, but each competitor said they were pleased with the heart and effort their colts put forth.
The second to choose his colt after Cameron, McNabb chose a gray colt WR Turning Diamonds, which he would later nickname Jerry on the suggestion of a fan.

“A lady walked up to me and said you need to name that colt Jericho, because he’s going to see the light in the end,” said McNabb, chuckling. Though the colt was nervous and had head-shyness issues, McNabb was pleased with his progress enough to purchase the colt and said he will use him for ranch work and travel with him over the next year and then sell him at the annual Diamond-McNabb 2011 ranch gelding sale in Douglas, WY.

Winters chose a sorrel colt, WR Shiners Flashback. In a surprise move, Winters’ wife bought the gelding for him during the second round pen session – ironically right before the colt started a two-lap-around-the-round-pen bucking spree, which Winters quickly brought under control.
Though all the horses made slow progress on day one, the clinicians made progress with their colts in leaps and bounds in round two on Sunday and it was clear going into the freestyle competition the race would be close.

Each competitor showcased their colt adeptly through the required rail work and obstacle course. Adding to the “you-never-know-what-they’ll-come-up-with-next” nature of the event, the clinicians had to navigate a surprise obstacle which turned out to be a person sitting in a chair wearing a gorilla costume. Surprisingly, all three colts felt pretty comfortable with the fake ape and breezed through the unusual obstacle without drama.

After completing the required rail work and obstacles, each clinician had time to present a freestyle that they felt best encompassed their colt’s unique talents and accomplishments over the two short days. Cameron rode to his colt’s namesake song, and at one point purposefully dropped the reins at a canter and did his own king of the world move horseback with arms outstretched. McNabb emphasized their colt’s ability to move out in the large arena – hitting a dead run with his colt and bringing him back calmly at the end. Winters once again tracked a calf during his freestyle to, as he said “to give his horse a job”.

Jody Wood, owner of Wood Ranch in Heber Springs, Ark., said he was honored to have provided the remuda for the second time and that he was pleased with how all three clinicians worked with the horses. Likewise, the clinicians were ebullient in their praise for the job Wood and the AQHA had done in providing the remuda.

“Mr. Wood really has something to be proud of. These are feely horses that can move out and do a job,” said McNabb.

Judging the event for themselves the first time at the 2010 event, Road to the Horse fans had the opportunity to cast their vote for who they thought should win the event. Combined with the expert opinion of judges Jack Brainard, Toni Warvell, Marian Buehler, James Gholson and Eitan Beth-Halachmy, the text message votes compiled from attendees determined Cameron as the 2010 champion.

Besides the coveted title of Road to the Horse 2010 Champion, Cameron received a check for $10,000 from Road to the Horse producer Tootie Bland, a memorial Steven “Dookie” Bland trophy saddle provided by Martin Saddlery featuring conchos by Gist Silversmiths, a handcrafted Road to the Horse buckle by Gist Silversmiths, a CSI saddle pad, and an original “Blue Horse” painting by artist Henry Patton which was featured as the cover image of the event’s souvenir program.

In the end however, aside from the title, prizes and attention, Cameron was quick to say that all of the men were leaving the event with strong bonds, not only with the horses, but also with the fans and one another.

“You won’t find a bigger gentleman that Richard Winters and you won’t find someone with a bigger heart than Ken McNabb,” Cameron said. “They impressed me with not only their horsemanship but also their demeanor. I would do anything for these guys and will always be close to them, it’s a cowboy brotherhood that we’ll always carry with us,” said Cameron.

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