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Year of big accomplishments…

From Horsetrader staff reports - December 19th, 2013 - Cover Story, Show & Event News
Nick Dowers

Nick Dowers

FEBRUARY: In a thrilling, down-to-the-wire fence work finish, Ron Emmons of Ione claimed his second consecutive World’s Greatest Horseman Championship aboard Olena Oak (Smart Chic Olena x Fritzs Oak E Doakie), a 2002 stallion owned in partnership between Nichole Scott and Emmons’s wife, LaDona Emmons. The pair scored a 219.5 in the herd work, a 214.5 in the rein work, a 221.5 in the steer-stopping and 219 in the cow work, and while they did not place first in any of the events, the steady stream of above-average scores added up to the winning 874 composite total on four events. “I’m ecstatic,” Emmons said. “To be able to get by those guys and win a prize is pretty awesome.”

A new season of West Coast Reining Horse Association competition was launched Feb. 8-10 at the Murieta Equine Complex, and with it was a familiar pattern: the nation’s largest affiliate continues to grow. “We always judge our year on the first couple of turnouts,” said incoming WCRHA President Ollie Galligan. “We had our schooling show at the end of January, and it was a huge turnout, and then the Affiliate 1 show was good. We’re growing and growing some more — we actually have more members now than we had at the end of last year.”

MARCH: In Las Vegas, Marjie Robinson scored the victory of her life when she entered the show pen at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Stakes at South Point Equestrian Center. She also won the Level 1 Limited Open Championship. The determined Robinson, riding her gelding Smart Circle Cat (WR This Cats Smart x Circle N Show Girl), culminated a long, painful recovery from a horrific leg injury by winning her first major competition in years. “To be honest, when I went in there, I didn’t really have any expectations,” said Robinson, who rode the 2008 gelding to a 646 composite score (214.5 herd/217.5 rein/214 cow) that earned trips to the finals in the Open, Intermediate Open and Limited Open Stakes finals. “I was just excited to be able to show.”

Kelli Norwood

Kelli Norwood

MAY: It was deja vu all over again at the Seventh Annual Sherri Gilkerson Memorial Bridle weekend, as Lyn Anderson and Lance Johnston emerged with respective Open Spectacular bridle and hackamore victories at the May 17-19 event that mirrored their success from two years ago. The two $5,000-added signature classes were part of a big three-day competition at Casner’s Ranch, a show jointed sponsored by the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association and the Arizona Cow Horse Association. The Memorial Bridle Spectacular is in memory of Sherri Gilkerson, who died in 2006 at age 34 after a horse accident. The perpetual trophy — Gilkerson’s bronzed boots, reclaimed by Anderson this year, have become a favorite to win among the riders.
Cuatro. The 2007 gelding, owned by David and Barbara Archer, earned $3,260 in the $5,000-added feature class that has become one of the most popular on the West Coast.

JUNE: As the show season neared its mid-year point, Southern California reiners converged on the Los Angeles Equestrian Center to get NRHA Affiliate qualifying points at the 2013 California Reining Horse Association Affiliate Finale show. Agua Dulce-based trainer Pat Wickenheiser continued his winning ways — most notably on Linda Katz’s 6-year-old Lenas Wright On gelding, Lenaliltothewright. Wickenheiser took “Dexter” to Circuit Championships in Novice Horse Open Level 1 and Level 2.

A pair of California non pros were West Coast headliners from the 2013 NRHA Derby, the association’s showcase competition for 4-, 5- and 6-year old reining horses that this year set a payout record of $948,000 to owners and nominators of open and non pro finalists. One of those non-pro finalists, Kelly Moran, took her newest ride, Wimpys Mega Step (Wimpys Little Step X Marthas Mega Jac) to third in the Level 3 Non Pro Finals and 10th in the Level 4, earning a combined $10,110. “Kelly did awesome,” said her trainer since 2009, Tracer Gilson of Saugus. “She’s a sweetheart who works really hard at it.”

Ron Emmons

Ron Emmons

JULY: Making headlines at this year’s Reining By The Bay were Gilroy trainer Gabe Divide, who battled aboard his OK Spook to a half-point victory over Andrea Fappani and Smoking Whiz in the Level 4 Open Derby, unseating the perennial champion; Dana Avila of Temecula, who in her first Reining By The Bay swept all levels in the Non Pro Derby on her mare, One Smart Pepto, and venerable breeder Cam Essick of Clements, who took a 3-year-old she had bred, Holier Than Thou, to the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro Futurity titles, respectively. There also was the excitement of Reining By The Bay’s new affiliation with the West Coast Reining Horse Association and the two full slates of WCRHA-approved classes that count toward the 400-member club’s year-end awards.

AUGUST: No one expected Kelli Norwood NOT to win the 2013 Jack and Linda Baker Classic Reining more than, well, Kelli Norwood. “I worked really hard for this event, but I still can’t believe I won,” said Kelli, who topped the large, competitive amateur field under the lights Los Angeles Equestrian Center Equidome on One Flashy Rooster for the title. “I had never won a buckle in my life.” Her first buckle is now displayed on a prominent wall in the barn of her trainer husband, Bill Norwood of Temecula. The win climaxed a quick, three-month campaign for Kelli starting in May when she began riding One Flashy Rooster (Gallo Del Cielo x Flashy Jackie Jac) after a year of no riding at all. The full-time physical education teacher at Great Oak High School in Temecula is the mother of three, including Austin, 7, Ella, 4, and Grace, who was born Jan. 7.

Todd Bergen revved up Roxanne Koepsell’s Peptos Shiney Pistol at the National Stock Horse Association’s Snaffle Bit Futurity, winning the Open Futurity and its $17,088 purse at the Mid-state Fairgrounds as the NRCHA Futurity neared in the coming weeks. In the Non Pro division, Jayson Fisher of Nipomo continued his remarkable year by taking his 3-year-old red roan, Catjumpoverspoon 10 (Hes A Peptospoonful X Catjumpedovertheboon X High Brow Cat), to titles in both the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro Futurities. He also kept alive his hot streak on his son’s Derby horse, Little Brown Indian (Hickorys Indian Pep X No Pleasing This Chic), winning both the Non Pro and Intermediate NSHA Non Pro Derbies.

SEPTEMBER: Bigger than ever, the 2013 High Roller Reining Classic came to South Point and challenged top reiners and their horses then sent many of them home with more than $300,000 in cash and prizes awarded. In the $45,000-added Whizkey N Diamonds Open 4-year-old Stakes, Andrea Fappani marked a 226 to win aboard SG Frozen Enterprise (Frozen Sailor x RS Rose SJ), earning $10,956. Combined with the $10,710 that the pair claimed as reserve champion in the High Roller Reining Classic Open Derby Level 4, they claimed $21,666. “You could sense that this was the biggest (HRRC) show so far,” said Fappani. “It felt to me like a national show. You felt the pressure to do well, and that’s what I love. Everybody stepped up.”

In his first trip to the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Open finals, Nick Dowers, claimed the $100,000 Championship aboard Time For The Diamond (One Time Pepto x Diamonds With Style x Playin Stylish), a horse he owns under the name of his family’s Triple D Ranches, LLC. Dowers, 31, piloted the sorrel stallion to a total 661 score (218.5 herd/218.5 rein/224 cow), earning a deafening ovation every time he entered the arena. “I wasn’t sure I would be able to hear the horn at the end of my fence work,” he said, smiling. “This is surreal. It hasn’t even sunk in. I’ve been telling my wife for a year – I got the horse to do it. If I can get things done right, I got a shot.”

OCTOBER: Familiar faces as well as fresh ones rose to the top at the eighth annual Shootout held by the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association, which wrapped up its 2013 show season at Casner Ranch. John Farris and his gelding, Boomba Chic, returned to the arena after a year’s layoff and won the Non Pro Shootout. “Red Ned”, as he is known in trainer Glen Aspinall’s barn, won the 2011 SCRCHA Shootout, then missed 2012 competition to allow for rehabilitation of a leg injury. “This year, I didn’t want to ride him a lot,” said Farris. “I just did the minimum number of shows, but we finished here and he did very well.”

NOVEMBER: Reined cow horse competitors know more than most that good things come in three’s, so it’s no surprise that the Third Annual Triple Crown, featuring separate awards in herd, rein and fence work as well as a composite, would be a hit. The two-day event for non professional riders was exactly that, as the host Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association built on its strong foundation of the last two years, attracting 65 entries on 50 horses to get a piece of more than $10,000 in added money and awards. “It was a great show,” wrapped up Edwards. “I hope even more non pros will come and be part of it next year.”

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