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Futurity winner’s path began out of NRHA sale

From Horsetrader staff reports - September 15th, 2011 - Cover Story, Show & Event News
Bill Dickinson

"When our horse went down the fence to pull a 220, my wife, Amy, and I looked at each other and asked, 'did that seriously just happen?'."
—Bill Dickinson, owner
Dulces Bell Starr

TEMECULA — When Bill Dickinson and his son, Travis, went to last winter’s National Reining Horse Association Futurity, they picked up a catalog for the annual NRHA Sale, and destiny took hold.

“We were looking at all the bloodlines, and we came across this mare, Dulces Belle Starr, who had sort of slipped through the cracks,” said Dickinson, a Southern California contractor with a ranch in Temecula. “We asked ourselves, ‘what is SHE doing here?!’ She should have been in Reno.”

That’s exactly where Dulces Belle Starr is headed after the 3-year-old mare won the 2011 National Stock Horse Association Open Futurity under trainer Jake Gorrell, who’ll be riding her in the National Reined Cow Horse Association World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity Sept. 19-Oct. 2 at the Livestock Events Center.

With bids low for the mare and his interest high, Dickinson paid $5,000 for the mare as a cutting or cow horse prospect and brought her to Southern California in mid-winter. Travis then started her before he relocated his training operation to Washington in early spring, and Dickinson took Dulces Belle Starr (Dulces Smart Lena x Seven S Belle Starr x Shining Spark) to Russ Westfall in Los Olivos. Westfall had her four months.

“Russ said she’s talented, but he thought she’d be better suited for cow horse, and then I sent her right to Jake,” said Dickinson. “He found a spot, and I told him, ‘let’s get her going’.”

It wasn’t until the day before the draw at last month’s NSHA Futurity that the eventual Open Champion was entered. Gorrell had trained her just four months.

“Jake told me she was his best 3 year-old—that she’s the real thing and I said OK, let’s go,” said Dickinson, who watched nine nail-biting sets of cow work after Gorrell had taken the composite lead just seven go’s into the first set—then held on to win the $20,000 Open purse. “I never put any expectations. I knew she was behind. Most of these guys have had these horses for over a year. Most of them start them as 2 year-olds. Travis had nine days on her, then Russ 90 days or so, and then Jake May to August.

“It was a nail-biter,” he said of the final cow work. “You look at these horses come in – they’re amazing, amazing. I’m impressed with Jake because he is always challenging himself to raise his level of training and his ability. Every time he goes in the show pen, he wants to get better.”

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