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First Project Cowboy win goes to Mark Matson

From the Newstrader - February 16th, 2012 - Newstrader

POMONA, CA – Wowing the judges with a bridleless routine in the freestyle competition, trainer Mark Matson of Temecula won the inaugural “Project Cowboy” event in front of the cameras and lights at the Horse Expo Pomona Feb. 2-3 at Fairplex.

Project Cowboy, presented by the American Quarter Horse Association, is “American Idol” meets “America’s Got Talent” for cowboys, and gives horsemen the opportunity to display their talents on horseback and in front of the television camera. The entire competition was filmed for a reality television program that is tentatively set to air Sept. 27 on RFD-TV.

Matson won the competition phase with a score of 470.5, and also was voted Cowboy Congeniality.
Known best in performance horse circles as the 2005 NRCHA Open Hackamore World Champion, Matson’s story is fast becoming more public – he grew up in southern Ohio in a family that did not share in his passion for horses. Once he left home in search of knowledge, his experiences have taken him all over the world. He enjoys roping, ranch rodeos, reining and team branding. Matson also owns a horse-drawn carriage company in Temecula.

Brian Bausch was the runner-up aboard American Quarter Horse Joses Perfection, aka Chapo, who ended up being a last-minute replacement when his own horse suffered a slight colic before the event began. Chapo made news at Fairplex two Februarys ago when Robin Bond rode him to the Extreme Cowboy Race title during what was Equine Affaire.

Bausch grew up on a horse while living in Kansas. He started giving clinics and making public appearances with his wife, Paula, in 2005. They live in Arizona with their two children. He has trained horses since 1994, and he has traveled the world because of horses. Brian has been a paid clinician in El Rancho Lebanon in the Middle East and the Nebraska Expo. He participates in three horsemanship clinics per year and competes in reined cow horse, roping, reining and mounted shooting. He is a trick rider, trick roper, gun spinner and has performed all over the world. Brian was the Michigan State High Point Calf Roper, a USTRC winner and a money earner at the NRCHA Derby Class. He is also a three-time Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association World Champion, having earned titles in 2003, 2008 and 2009. He competed in the 2011 National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity.

“Black,” an American Quarter Horse ridden by Gilbert Chavez, was voted fan favorite. Working with only one eye, Black was a regal mover, carrying Gilbert to a fourth-place finish in the finals. Chavez grew up watching and learning from his grandfather and father as they trained horses. Known as “Chavez,” he has been training horses and carrying on the family tradition for more than 25 years. He trusts Black as his mount for the event even though Black is blinded in one eye due to an old injury, and the crowd recognized this great bond between horse and rider. Chavez trains and exercises horses for a living, while he specializes in colt starting and problem solving. He also works with and trains children for gymkhanas, trails and barrel racing.

Project Cowboy and the American Quarter Horse Association recently announced that Project Cowboy at the Pomona Horse Expo; Project Cowgirl at the Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento, June 8-10; and Project Cowboy – Battle of the Sexes will become an RFD-TV Television series. Each event will be filmed for television. The shows will air in the fall of 2012.

Colbert and Bland are keeping the show reality based and invited 16 cowboys to become a part of the Pomona Horse Expo show.

“It makes better television when we follow only 16 characters, than to follow one hundred,” stated Project Cowboy producer Patti Colbert. “The format will be more like ‘The Bachelor’ or ‘Survivor’ which is intriguing and entertaining television.”

The same television format will apply to Project Cowgirl at the Sacramento, California, Western States Horse Expo. Colbert and Bland will be inviting between 15-20 women to become reality television stars.

“We are looking for unique, diverse cowgirls,” said Tootie Bland. “We want women from all walks of life, as long as they can ride!”

Project Cowboy’s top-10 finishers included: 1. Mark Matson, 470.5; 2. Brian Bausch, 403; 3. Byron Hogan, 356; 4. Gilbert Chavez, 349.5; 5. Joe Novy, 341.5; 6. Joel Sheridan, 330; 7. Len Judd, 325; 8. Matt Sheridan, 309.5; 9. Joe Misner, 301 and 10. Cody Pendant, 256.5.

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